In the modern world, everything has an online presence. Whether it’s a person, a place, or a national landmark, someone has written about it, someone has made a page for it, it’s been mentioned in a tweet or a blog post, something. Chances are your small business has a presence somewhere, even if you aren’t aware of it, and this presence has an effect on your business. Online reputation management (ORM) is a necessity in the modern world, especially with sites like Yelp and Angie’s List where users create the pages and the content being the go-to places to research a business.
According to this article on Supermarket News, citing a Harvard Business study,a one star difference in your average Yelp rating represents a five to nine percent difference in your business’ overall revenue. While it may seem that once they are written, there is no way to change someone’s review or affect their opinion, this is absolutely not the case. Sites like Yelp allow users to edit and change their reviews, which means that until your business has closed its doors, it is never too late to try to engage with your customers and enhance their experience.
The number one thing to keep in mind when you’re engaging with online reviews is to always be positive. Unlike in math, negativity on top of negativity will never lead to positivism. While “the customer is always right” is a cliché with a ton of holes, it is something to keep in mind when responding to reviews online. A customer’s experience and opinions are theirs, and they are correct for them, so you need to make sure to not be defensive or contradict either of these things.
If you want to satisfy a dissatisfied customer, you need to acknowledge the source of their dissatisfaction, apologize, and offer them an explanation for why it won’t happen again, maybe even offer them something to make up for their negative experience. It is the same sort of thing that you would do in purpose to please a disgruntled customer, but for some reason many business-owners don’t realize that offline techniques can still work in the digital world.