Negative online reviews are like taking shots at your business.

Have you ever felt like you were playing Russian Roulette with your online reviews?

You know what I mean. Hoping that customer who loved what you did remembers to leave a good review. And praying the jerk-face who berated your cashier isn’t smart enough to post it on Facebook.

Who cares what they think?

That’s a fair enough question. Your customers come in based on your plucky personality and the awesome stuff you sell, right?

The stats tell a different story.

According to ReviewTrackers, over 63% of people check Google reviews before visiting a business. This is followed by Yelp at just over 45%.

Ignoring online reviews is essentially letting a pistol-waving baby take free shots at your business. Those bullet holes can ruin your reputation with other potential customers before you ever have a chance to meet them.

How do you respond to online reviews?

1. Take Ownership

First, you need to take control of the place they’re left. That means claiming ownership of your Google My Business listing, Facebook Page, Yelp Place, etc. Only recognized business owners are allowed to reply to reviews.

BTW, this is also a great time to make sure the address, website and other info listed on your places is correct. Can someone say, SEO bonus?

Managing your online reviews

2. Ask for Reviews

One of the best ways to remove negative review bullets from the gun is to have way more positive reviews. If you have 100 5-star reviews and one troll, searchers can tell the difference. If all you have are trolls, nobody wants to cross that bridge.

Always, always, always ask your customers for a review after any sale or service. And you don’t have to beg.

Finish your transaction with, “thanks for choosing us today. If we earned it, we’d love for you to leave us a quick review on Facebook.”

Customers appreciate that you care about their opinion and want to provide great service.

3. Monitor & Respond to Reviews

Once you’ve got control, keep an eye on it. Check every day for new reviews and make sure you reply.

How important is that? Over 53% of consumers expect a response to their review within 7 days of posting. Yet over 63% of customers report never receiving a response from a review — positive or negative.

That’s a huge gap just waiting to be filled.

Respond to positive feedback with a thank you. Reply to negative feedback with an apology and offered resolution — even if it wasn’t your fault.

Pro Tip: Reviewers expect your response to be authentic. Don’t set up an auto-responder. Make it personal.

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