Online reviews can make or break a small business. What many small business owners struggle with is the fact that people — customers and noncustomers alike — can leave a review about your business regardless of whether you created a page or review profile on external sites. Google and review sites such as Yelp and Tripadvisor automatically create business listings, and users can create them as well.
This means that business owners and their employees have a responsibility to be proactive with online reviews and listings. Monitor and respond to reviews in order to take charge of your reputation and build it in a positive way. Keep an eye on review sites to address customers who are big fans or who may be unhappy. Do not attempt to erase bad reviews, and make sure you respond to both the good and bad messages to thank customers, rectify issues, and show you take your customers’ needs seriously. If a review isn't completely truthful, stick to the facts and offer to resolve the problem over the phone, in person, or over email. Your audience — including potential leads — is reading these reviews, and your responses can help build affinity and trust.
Most customers don’t look only at five-star reviewed businesses, but most do care that business owners care enough to resolve customer complaints when they arise. In fact, according to Ryan Bonnici, CMO of G2 Crowd, “Maintaining a strong but imperfect rating strikes customers as more realistic than all perfect reviews.”
To respond to reviews, claim your review profiles across various sites by completing each site’s verification process, which usually entails getting an email or postcard to your business email or physical address.