The Dos and Don'ts of Online Reviews – 352 Noodles & Doodles

This may come as a shock to you, but people have absolutely no problem saying bad things about you, or your business, on the Internet. Ok, that’s not exactly a revelation, but Google recently released an algorithm update called Pigeon that is focused on local search. After Pigeon, local businesses have seen dramatic changes with their search results: namely, online review sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon have been given much more weight – which means online reviews have become even more important.

Since many business owners still have to fight the urge to unleash an all-caps screed against any negative review they see, we wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the best ways to deal with online reviews – both positive and negative. Enjoy, and don’t forget to leave us a review in the comments.

Transcript below.

 

[Burton Hohman:] 
Hello, my name is Burton Hohman. I’m a digital marketing strategist here at 352. Today, I’m going to be talking about the Dos and Don’t’s on Online Reviews.
 
So, reviews have always been important part of local search to local business owners. The reason we’re talking about that today is that on July 24, so a couple days ago as of this recording, Google came out with an algorithm update called Pigeon. What that did was it retooled the local search algorithm, so local businesses are seeing some dramatic changes with their search results. Listings like Yelp and Urbanspoon are moving up higher in search results, and as a result reviews are coming back and coming to be more important. Not just the Google reviews, but reviews elsewhere. So that’s why we wanted to take a look at how you could respond to negative reviews and positive reviews as well.
 
The first thing you want to do, though, is think about, “Why am I getting this negative review?”
 
As a business owner, you’re naturally going to have a biased opinion about your business. You’re gonna think it’s the best no matter what and that no one should ever have a negative thing to say about that. Well, that’s just unrealistic. There’s always going to be some things that some people may not like, and those can be legitimate isssues. So you need to make sure you go through and see, “Does this person make a valid point? Are there things I need to be changing within my business?”
 
While not every negative review is going to lead to some earth-shattering business change, it’s always good to look at the review to see what the legitimate points are. When you do get a negative review, one of the first things you’re going to do is obviously read it. Once you read it, take a step back, take a breath, gather your thoughts together. One of the worst things you can do is just fire back a response immediately calling out the person, saying how wrong they are on all these points.
 
The one way to get someone who’s unhappy with your business even more unhappy about your business is to call them out on the Internet. So that’s definitely one thing you don’t want to do. Always be rational with your responses. Go point by point through them. You’re responding as the business, you’re not responding as a person, so you want to portray the best possible image of your business online as possible. Even if you aren’t going to make the individual reviewer happy, that response is for the other people that in the future will go through and read your responses to see if they agree with that negative rview or not. So you always have to keep that in mind when you’re going through and you’re responding to negative reviews.
 
One thing that you also don’t want to do is simply ignore the negative reviews. While that sometimes can be easier to ignore – and ignoring is better than a bad response – just ignoring them, people don’t get to hear your side of the story. You’re always going to want to show your side of the story, even if you don’t get to correct that person, so people in the future know that, “Oh, this reviewer was wrong, or the company helped answer the question that this person had, so maybe in the future my experience is better.”
 
Also, don’t try to review negative reviews, or don’t directly reach out to that person and either threaten or strongly suggest that they take down a review. Almost always, that’s going to backfire on you. You don’t want people knowing that, “Hey, this company told me to take down my review.” They’re going to tell more people about the review, and that’s the last thing you want. You don’t ever want to draw more attention to a negative review than is needed. Just imagine that that person who left the review is coming into your store and telling you all the things they just said. How you’d react to that person face-to-face is a good model of how you should react to them online as well. You wouldn’t yell and scream at a customer in the store, you shouldn’t do that online either. Even if they are yelling and screaming at you, that doesn’t mean that’s how you should react.
 
Those are kind of the basics of how to respond to a negative review. Something that people forget, is that when you get a positive review, you should also respond. People like to hear just a thank you. It doesn’t have to be ornate, you don’t have to give them gift certifications, just say, “Hey I’m glad you enjoyed your experience. We hope to see you again.”
 
That’s something that will go a long way with people. They like to be responded to; they like to know that their business is important to your company. So that’s always a good thing to do.
 
Another thing is to be proactive in your responses. You can’t always anticipate when people are going to leave you a negative review, but if you hold a big event and something went wrong, be prepared that people aren’t going to have the best things to say about it. Or, even if you think it went great, always monitor. You can set up Google Alerts for your business name to see when people are leaving new reviews, you can monitor the sites that you’re on that you always see them on there, and always stay engaged with your social media presence and on your site. If you’re posting new content, people aren’t only going to have the reviews to go off of, they’ll always see, “Oh there are these reviews, but they’re also posting new things on their website, so maybe they’re changing things. They’re staying up to date.”
 
And the biggest thing with the reviews is that even if you know you’re in the right, always apologize. Always take the high road, even if you know for sure you did nothing wrong. Sometimes people are just looking for an apology, and saying sorry can go a long way.
 
Thanks for watching and don’t forget to subscribe to the 352 Inc YouTube channel, and please leave a comment below so you can see how I respond to your comments. Thank you.
  • Kate Griggs

    Burton, what should you do if the negative review is extremely negative, potentially including strong persuasive language to the audience urging boycott of a place or service?

    • BurtonHohman

      Hey Kate, that’s a great question and it can be very scary for business owners. The first thing you need to do is to simply offer an apology. The apology needs to be genuine and sincere. Next as a business owner you need to be able to read through the review and find the core issue and address it in a very calm and reasonable manner. The best way to discredit an incredibly angry person is to respond to them in a calm and rationale way. By providing a genuine response where you recognize the issue and say how you plan to fix it may not appease the reviewer, but it will help when other people read through the thread.

  • Chris Manning

    Very informative review man. You brought to light very good points on not ignoring negative reviews. I am on offender of simply ignoring them and you made some really REALLY good points that has changed my outlook on them.