Market your business through online reviews #LikeABoss

Taking control of reviews can increase revenue and create a positive outlook for potential customers

by AT&T Business Editorial Team

Owning a business gives you (as the owner) a peek behind the curtain to hear what people are saying behind your back — the awesome, the awful and the “O-M-G I can’t believe someone would say that!”

Fear not — while you can’t control the content of your business’s reviews, you can do certain things proactively, as well as reactively, to help manage them in a way that keeps your biz shining under a positive light.

With the influx of third-party sites that allow people to write comments and provide ratings, it’s important you don’t turn a blind eye. You might be thinking, “Wait, how about I just remove my business from these sites altogether?”

Nope. Bad idea.

Having zero reviews can potentially be more harmful than having one bad apple in a sea of good reviews. Taking hold of your pages can boost business — 90 percent (not a typo) of customers read reviews before visiting a business, and 88 percent of them trust these reviews as much as personal recommendations.

It’s true, a negative review can affect your business — four or more bad comments can scare away up to 70 percent of potential customers. But there’s great news, we promise: There are a few simple practices you can implement today to amplify your glowing ratings, as well as push the bad ones off the grid.

Before: Encourage positive reviews from the get-go

Sending customers a little reminder that you’d appreciate their feedback might give them that extra push they need. While most reviews are left by the extremely emotional (either from an amazing experience or disappointing one), simply putting a note on customers’ receipts or following up with an email could encourage them to leave a positive review they otherwise might not have.

During: Catch customers while they’re in the process

Especially if you’re new to handling reviews, intervening before a customer leaves a review can help you curb the bad ones before they even get written.

Follow up with your customers about their experience. If they give you positive feedback, you can thank them and direct them to those third-party review sites.

If they report a negative experience, you can redirect them to fill out a form that only goes to you. That way, you can mitigate the issue before your unhappy customer takes to the internet with an ALL-CAPS RANT.

After: Respond, respond — and yep, respond

Okay, let’s say you didn’t get a chance to intervene. Be sure to respond to all reviews, particularly the bad ones. Simply showing potential customers your effort to right any wrongs will give them a delightful perspective.

While a snarky reply to a bad reviewer can sometimes work for a very few select businesses, assume you’re not one of them (but of course you’re still special). Instead, opt for an apologetic tone that takes the blame and tries to make things better.

What’s more, encourage bad reviewers to contact you directly to take the conversation off the third-party site.

After you’ve addressed the bad review and righted the situation, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask the reviewer for an update that accurately reflects their entire experience with you. One-third of those customers will delete or change their review into a positive one.

Angry customers can be frustrating, and if you feel like you’ve exhausted all avenues, then simply let the review stand and take two steps:   

  • First, read some inspirational quotes about focusing on the positive — marketing #LikeABoss is all about taking things in stride   
  • Second, move on, putting more effort into the “Before” and “During” steps above to offset the bad reviews.

Learn more about solutions for small businesses here.