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The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Reviews

When is the last time you checked out what your customers are saying about you online? Do you know where to look for reviews of your business? Are you wondering why you should even care? Review sites like Yelp! and Google Places may be affecting your business in more ways than you know.

Let’s start with a powerful statistic:

“70% of consumers say they consult product reviews or consumer ratings before making a purchase” – Business Week 2009

Granted, this is a couple years old, but if anything, that number has only risen. That means that almost 3/4 of your customers are going to check you out online before they purchase your product or service.

Just imagine how devastating it can be if you have:

a) no reviews for your product/service
b) even as few as 1-2 high ranking negative reviews

Bad reviews have become a serious problem for many business owners in Los Angeles and elsewhere. When one appears, the initial reaction is usually one of despair. Most businesses have no system in place to deal with bad reviews, and trying to get them removed is almost impossible. Popular review sites like Yelp!, Google Places, CitySearch, and Insider Pages will not remove a bad review a the owners request, regardless of how unfair or inaccurate it may be.

Basically at this point, business owners need to move into customer service mode. Rather than wasting energy battling Yelp! or Google, or hiring lawyers, the answer is to respond appropriately. Yelp! (for example) will allow the business owner to post a response to any comment. At this point, it’s really no different than dealing with a disgruntled customer who is standing right in front of you. What would you do? You would apologize, ask what you could do to rectify the situation, and offer a freebie to diffuse the situation. Even if the person doesn’t respond, you go on record as having attempted to rectify the situation. Many times, you will be able to open a dialogue with your reviewer, and convince them to remove the negative review.

Alternatively, positive reviews will do wonders to increase your conversions, and suppress the bad reviews. All businesses should get a system in place to collect good reviews and encourage people to leave reviews. While the bad reviews may never go away completely, it is ideal to overwhelm the user with good ones. Nowadays, people expect at least a couple mediocre or bad reviews mixed in with the good, it actually helps make things look more legit.

In a nutshell, here is what you should be doing:

1. Be aware of what your customers are saying about your business online
2. Engage your customers on sites like Yelp!, Google Places, InsiderPages, CitySearch, etc.
3. Respond appropriately to bad reviews – never argue, just provide customer service
4. Get mechanisms in place to generate more good reviews

Reputation management has never been more important than now. By taking control, and engaging your customers online, business owners can feel empowered, rather than helpless. While we are all at the mercy of popular review sites to some degree, there is a lot that can be done to improve how your business is perceived online.

Need help? Ask about our Reputation Management Services. We are experts at dealing with review sites, consumer complaint sites, and manipulating the Google search results.

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