Bad reviews can happen to good businesses. It’s a fact that everyone has to embrace and learn to deal with. A lapse in service can send an unhappy customer to Yelp or Google motivated to tell their tale of woe. And if you are in an industry (like restaurants) that gets a lot of reviews, the chances are pretty high that there might be a few negative ones out there. They are unpleasant to read and painful to see associated with your business for all the world to see. Unfortunately, you can’t delete reviews, but there are ways to minimize their impact on your business through reputation management strategies. While some tools have been added that allow owners to respond to reviews, this feature should be used judiciously. You don’t want to come off looking like an attack dog contesting any bad thing anyone has to say about your business. The best thing you can do is motivate happy clients to post reviews to offer an accurate picture of your business and your clientele.
But before you dismiss the bad reviews as malcontents or malicious competitors, take a moment to read them from an impartial perspective. These detailed reports of failures or shortcomings, while painful to read, provide valuable feedback that is often difficult to gather on your own. If you can put your pride away for the few minutes it takes to read them; you may learn some important things about your business that will help you improve it and grow.
For example, are there consistent complaints about service at a particular time of day? Maybe you need to reevaluate your workflow for efficiency or the staffing levels of various shifts. Negative comments about the quality of food at your restaurant? Maybe it would be worth adding a quality control checkpoint in your kitchen. Whatever the negative comments are (unless they are obviously unfounded) they present an opportunity to improve your product or service.
You can also use the reviews of other businesses as a tool to improve your marketing. Reviews on Yelp come in a constant stream that you can monitor. If you follow this link (reviews 20175), you can see the latest reviews in the 20175 zip code. This allows you to see reviews about your business, but also what customers are saying about your competitors. (You can modify the link by deleting the 20175 and replacing it with your zip code.)
Their shortcomings can be opportunities for you. Portions too small at a competitors establishment? Trumpet the generous portions you provide. Is there a product that people are complaining about that you sell? Ditch it and advertise a better alternative.
These reviews provide a wealth of free information better to understand your customers and their ever-changing tastes and needs. A little research can unearth a bonanza of opportunities that you may not have otherwise seen.
So the next time you are checking out your business local listings, relax if you see something less than flattering. Use it as constructive criticism and then talk to us about reputation management to make sure the online local business reviews paint an accurate picture of your business.