Businesses  inevitably face negative reviews. It’s part of dealing with the public and the Internet empowers  belligerent “voices” like never before. Here are some basic tips for handling bad reviews:

1. Monitor your reviews. The sooner you catch a bad review the better. If you are an @tlanta inbound client you have our Reputation Management/Marketing tool that keeps an eye on your online reviews for you.

2. Learn the rules of review sites. For instance, to engage reviewers on Yelp, you must claim (at no charge) your business in the Yelp system. Each site usually has methods set up for challenging negative reviews.

3. Respond to all reviews, good and bad. Future searchers who see your reviews will see an “engaged” business – a good thing.

4. Don’t respond in the heat of the moment. Make sure you calm down if the review sets you off (it’s going to make anyone mad to see bad things said about a business so publicly). Calm down. Remember this is business and what comes naturally when dealing with the public . The reviewer may have a legitimate beef – be sure to examine that possibility. And recognize the Internet allows much unfairness for which remedies may not exist. So make sure you don’t go off – that won’t help with future prospects that may come across the review and your response.

5. Stay positive. Every time you post something on the Internet you are communicating with the whole world. Make sure “the world” knows you are a positive person. One good way to do is to “flip the script” and use the bad review as an occasion to emphasize remarkable things about your business: years in business, awards won, happy customers, other positive reviews, etc.

6. Show genuine concern. First, empathize with the reviewer, if possible: “I’d be upset, too, if ….” Second, apologize, if that is called for. Finally, resolve to do better.

7. Attempt to take the conversation offline. Post your business email and encourage a discussion aimed at resolving issues and “hurt.”

8. Acquiesce? This may be hard to swallow, but we are all in dollar and cents businesses. A bad review can be very costly long term, so it may be excellent marketing to take every step possible to resolve a dispute that will result in the removal of a bad review. Consider refunds, replacements, or whatever else seems appropriate. We are going to lose some “battles” along the way – when this happens, let’s try to hold the casualties down.

9. Keep your ideal customer in mind. Always take the view as you address reviews that you are speaking to your ideal customer. Tailor your message for him or her.

10. Accumulate positive reviews in advance. If bad reviews are inevitable, cushion their blow with earlier published good reviews. Solicit these reviews, starting right now. @tlanta inbound has the best, most effective and easiest way to do this. Ask us for details now.

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