A while back, Google made a very subtle change to its results page. Say you do a search for moving companies vancouver — now, in addition to the search results, you’ll see a summary of consumer reviews submitted.

This is a bigger deal that it seems. Think about how you look for services — you won’t Google the name of a company, you’re likely to Google the category: “laser eye surgery vancouver” or “interior decorators dallas.” Now, presented with a list of companies — some with five star ratings, and some with lower ratings — you’re probably more likely to click on the listings with higher ratings.

As a business, you’ve got to be actively on top of those ratings — claiming your business in Google Reviews, Yelp, and other review sites, then responding quickly to feedback. Not responding and leaving a negative comment to stand on one of these sites looks like your  company couldn’t care less to respond.

Yelp has some great tips on responding to negative reviews:

1) Check Your Reviews Regularly
It’s important to respond to negative reviews in a timely fashion. If you respond quickly, the person who wrote the review is more likely to respond positively because you showed that you care. Also, other Yelpers who are reading the negative review will have the opportunity to read your comments and see how you responded.

2) Thank the Reviewer
We should always thank Yelpers for taking the time to share their experiences. Often, they are providing valuable feedback and suggestions. Treat your negative reviews like a suggestion box. In some cases, they can help you improve upon your customer service or business.

3) Acknowledge the Problem
If the gripe is legitimate, apologize for the situation and invite the reviewer to come back after you have rectified the problem. You may offer them a refund or an incentive on a future visit [if the situation warrants this type of action.]

You can read more at their full article.

I’m sometimes asked by organizations to present some strategies on countering negative reviews online (my keynote presentation: The Facts of Strife: A Senior Leaders’ Guide to Crisis Management Online) but sometimes the solution can be simple.

Recently, I worked with a dentist in Vancouver who wanted to find a way to build more reviews on these review sites, so we developed a simple card they could hand to customers.

Staff have been instructed to ask patients to give “a fair review” — never, “a good review” or “a positive review.”

By building up reviews on these important sites, and responding to criticism in a transparent manner, you’ll be much further ahead in the race for customers.

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