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http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-one-gold-star-ranking-image12079993We all know word of mouth advertising is the best way to grow your business. However, today’s version of word of mouth has evolved to many mouths, on sites like Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Google, sharing their experiences.

As a business owner, you may be hesitant to pull up your comments in fear of discovering negative reviews. Since we unfortunately don’t live in a perfect world, there will likely be occasional negative reviews. However, it’s extremely important to be on top of your game here.

Online negative reviews provide a very unique opportunity. By responding to these negative reviews, you can assure readers that your business is actively addressing the issue and improving from the feedback. By proactively responding to the customer, you are giving yourself a chance to reverse the influence of negative reviews online. We strongly believe these are the steps you should take to respond to any negative reviews:

Have Your Social Profiles Claimed

You will need to have claimed these online directories or review sites before you can actively respond. This typically involves verifying your ownership and completing a profile. Be sure to research which online review sites are best suited to your franchise and where your audience is most active, so as not to spread your resources too thin.

Address Negative Reviews Directly

Likely, disappointed consumers are posting negative reviews because they want many people to see it. Begin by acknowledging what went wrong. Repeating it back to them will let them know you understand the problem and are empathizing. Identify this with a sincere apology-

“I’m deeply sorry you were not given the specific room that you reserved at [Hotel Name]. This is highly unlike our staff, as we pride ourselves in our hospitality.”

Beginning with an apology will add a personal element to your business and help begin to build back your rapport with that customer.

Keep it Brief and Mind Your Manners

This part may be the most difficult, but don’t appear defensive. One reason we suggest you keep it short is to avoid saying something out of defense. Don’t accuse them of exaggerating, lying, or being in the wrong. Just a few polite sentences will do.

Continue the Conversation Privately

The last thing you want is to be engaged in a back and forth public argument. A personal message, email, or phone call will be most effective. This time involve a manager who can help arrive at a resolution with the customer. By doing this you are proving you really care, and are not just saving face.

By making online reviews possible for your consumers, you are giving them a voice. You are also giving yourself a chance to handle any “damage control” that needs to be done. Turn negative reviews into positive results by being proactive with any negative reviews. If you’re looking for more tips on how to handle negative reviews online and other aspects of marketing your franchise online, give Franchise Marketing Group a call at (816) 875-9311 or visit our office in Kansas City. Our services include business listings optimization, reputation management, and social media marketing.