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As online review web sites continue to evolve, more and more consumers are relying on them to make purchasing decisions from businesses for products and services. Both positive and negative reviews can impact a consumer’s buying decision, as the number of reviews, and the content of the reviews, posted about a business can easily help a potential customer make a quick decision, sometimes in a matter of seconds. Keep in mind that when a consumer looks at online reviews, they are normally already in the market for a product or service, and could be in a time crunch to make a decision.

Online reviews also play a part in how Google and other search engines rank search results of businesses, and can affect which search results get clicked on.

For these reasons, it is important to have strategies in place for managing your online reputation – and the more proactive approach you can take about it, the better it will be for you and your business.

Monitoring online review web sites to see if an online review has been written about your business can be time-consuming though. Here are two time-saving ways you can be proactive about managing your online reputation:

  • Depending on the web site, there may be an option for you to set up notifications so that each time a review is posted about your business on that web site, you will automatically get notified through e-mail.
  • You can also set up a Google Alert, which is a free notification service offered through Google. Each time your business is mentioned online on any web site, you will get notified through e-mail. To create a Google Alert, visit www.google.com/alerts.

Once you have strategies in place for monitoring online reviews written about your business, you should also set up tactics for managing any negative reviews that might get posted. To begin, don’t panic – remember to be polite and behave professionally.

So what should you do if a negative review is posted online about your business?

  • Carefully read the review and share it with others in your business. Was the review accurate? Does internal action need to be taken to improve your operations? Do you need to improve internal policies and procedures? Have all employees been trained properly? Is more training needed? Does your employee handbook need to be updated? Discuss possible improvements internally. Sometimes a negative review can serve as a wake-up call for your business and help you improve.
  • Attempt to contact the person who wrote the negative review to make things right. Post a response apologizing and if possible, offer some sort of compensation. This could turn a negative review into a positive review if the issue is resolved to the customer’s satisfaction and they end up with a positive experience. This shows the customer that you care about the quality of your service and products being provided. Consider having others in your business review your response before you post it, especially if you’re still upset about the review.
  • If you can’t fix the customer’s problem, acknowledge this in your response and explain why. Are there time factors involved that you can’t meet? Has the product or service been discontinued? Your response will show others that you acknowledged the problem and are being upfront and honest. Again, consider having others in your business review your response for feedback before you post it so it.
  • Consider contacting personnel at the web site where the negative review was posted to see if it can be removed. Does the review follow the guidelines of the web site it was posted on? Does the review contain offensive, harassing, or inappropriate language? Is it a false review, possibly posted by a competitor or former employee?
  • Accept the negative review. Expect a few negative reviews every once in a while. Leave it up to readers to determine if the review seems accurate, especially if there are a large number of positive reviews posted about your business. Sometimes readers can determine if the negative reviewer is being unreasonable.

JV Innovations can help you manage your online reputation. Contact us for more information or if you have any questions.

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