How to Respond to Bad Online Reviews Like a Boss

Did you know that online reviews are the third most trusted source of information among consumers?

According to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising survey, the most credible advertising comes from the people consumers know and trust. However, trust isn’t confined to their inner circle. In fact, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Online reviews are a powerful way to increase search engine visibility, build trust with prospective customers, and drive revenue. Local businesses reap the rewards of positive online reviews. Consumers are likely to spend 31 percent more on a business with excellent reviews and, on average, a 1-star increase on Yelp leads to a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue for the business.

But, what happens when an unsatisfied customer leaves a negative review? Does it influence someone’s decision to visit a business?

Absolutely. Not only will 86 percent of consumers hesitate to purchase after reading about an unsatisfactory experience, but one negative review on Yelp can cost a business 30 customers!

This highlights how critical positive reviews are for local businesses. Because customers rely on online research more than ever to make buying decisions, brands are at the mercy of online reviews. A proactive approach is the best way to manage your online brand reputation. First, develop an understanding of how the various rating and review sites work. Claim your business listing on each review site and ensure the information displayed in your profile is accurate and complete. Inaccuracies in business listings, like an out-of-service phone number or website, can damage a consumer’s trust in a business.

Once your online business listings are up to date, it’s important to ask loyal customers to share their experiences. It’s not necessary to have hundreds of positive comments—56 percent of consumers trust a business after reading between 2 and 6 reviews. You’ll want to schedule time daily to respond to all customer reviews, both positive and negative. It’s a good practice to schedule this time earlier in the day; responding to negative reviews after a stressful shift is a recipe for disaster. By commenting on good reviews, your business appears more engaged and human to prospective customers. How you respond to negative reviews is of critical importance and has long-lasting effects on your brand reputation.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

While it’s impossible to control what people say, you can help shape the narrative by responding professionally, swiftly, and calmly. Here are 8 tips to properly handle negative online reviews.

Remember, brand reputation is a key driver in attracting and converting new customers. When shopping local, consumers consider reliability, expertise, and professionalism the most important reputation traits. Reliability means delivering on your brand promise consistently. Expertise means showing prospective customers why you are the expert in your domain. Professionalism means staying professional during all customer interactions, online and offline, without fail.

As a business owner, you will inevitably be faced with challenging customers and negative reviews. These challenges are your opportunity to take control of the narrative and share your brand story. Successful reputation management rests in a company’s ability to deliver a simple, clear, and aligned brand story with ruthless consistency. Learn how to harness the power of the six-second story to engage prospects and inspire remarkable customer experiences by reading the TopRight Guide to Transformational Marketing.

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