Various local business listings provide customers the ability to leave reviews about their experiences with a business. Reviews can often affect no only your online reputation, but also affect a potential new customer’s likelihood of choosing to do business with you.
Generally, the best way of managing online reviews to make sure your online reputation is positive is to actively solicit reviews from all customers. If your business is good, then the number of good reviews will greatly outnumber the bad. However, if you’re in business long enough you will get a bad review from time to time. Human nature dictates as much.
Managing online reviews is critical…and can be simple.
Although not all review sites provide a business owner to opportunity to respond to reviews, some do. The choice of whether to respond directly to a review is strictly up to the owner. We urge caution, however, in how a business owner does this since the response can easily make matters worse. In addition, direct responses are public to all and can have an affect on your overall online reputation.
Google’s published tips for writing a response as part of managing online reviews are right on the mark:
- Ignore minor complaints and resolve issues privately when possible.
- Address problems constructively. Don’t use responses to advertise.
- Do not ask reviewers for anything or offer them anything.
- Be professional and polite. The world can read your response.
In addition, we would add the following tip when managing online reviews:
- Do not attack the validity of a customer’s complaint because it will often be read as a personal attack.
Reviews You Can Respond To
To respond publicly to a review on Google Places, log into your account and browse to your Google Places listing. Below the each review in the “Reviews by Google users” section is a link to “Respond publicly as the owner”.
To respond publicly to a review on Yahoo Local, log into your account and browse to your Yahoo listing. Below each review in the “Recent Reviews” section is a link to “Comment on Review”. This varies slightly from Google in that ANYONE can comment on a review – not just the business owner. However, the comment will show the user behind it.
As of this writing, Bing Local no longer shows full reviews. They use a simple 5-star user ratings system. There is no mechanism for managing online reviews on Bing.
Merchantcircle provides perhaps the most control over managing online reviews. As the business owner, you can remove reviews or respond publicly to them. To manage reviews on Merchantcircle, log in to your account and go to the “Dashboard”. From the dashboard, click on “Reviews”.
Insiderpages is similar to Google and Yahoo in terms of providing the ability for a business owner to respond directly – and publicly – to a review. Log into the Insiderpages account and browse to your listing. Below each review is a link to “Respond to this review”.
Yelp is similar to Google and Yahoo in terms of providing the ability for a business owner to respond directly – and publicly – to a review. Log into your business owner account and browse to your listing. Below each review is a link to “Add owner comment”.
Superpages is similar to Google and Yahoo in terms of providing the ability for a business owner to respond directly – and publicly – to a review. Log into your business owner account and browse to your listing. Below each review is a link to “Business Owner Reply to Review”.
To respond publicly to a review on Yellowpages, log into your account and browse to your Yellowpages listing. Below each review in the “Recent Reviews for…” section is a link to “Respond to this Review”. This varies slightly from Google in that ANYONE can comment on a review – not just the business owner. However, the comment will show the user behind it.
To respond publicly to a review on Kudzu, log into your business account and go to “My Business Center”. Under “Manage your business profile” is a link to “Manage Your Reviews”. Kudzu provides the option to “Add Reply” to any review, regardless of the source (I.e.- third party reviews from another listing that is shown in Kudzu).
Managing Online Reviews – Summary
We all strive to make every customer happy every time – or else we wouldn’t invest so much time, energy, money and emotion into being a business owner. However, it is simply impossible to make every customer happy every time. People have bad days and sometimes customers can have unrealistic expectations.
The idea that we can fully control every aspect to totally eliminate bad reviews is simply unrealistic. By actively encouraging every customer to share their experience online, the number of good reviews will far outweigh the impact of a minimal number of bad reviews.
We would urge extreme caution to anyone who wants to respond directly to bad reviews. Be sure to reduce or even eliminate emotional responses. They are more often than not counter-productive. And since responses are public – and mostly permanent – choose your words wisely. Managing online reviews can be a mine-field.
At this current time there are a lot of different sites that are offering Local Business Listing including Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Local companies can see an exponential amount of growth if this feature is utilized to its fullest
An even better feature for local business owners is the ability to link the listing to the homepage of the business. With this feature, local business owners can give simple directions to customers seeking to learn more and visit the business. Finally, if there weren’t already enough features for the local business owner, Google also allows the business to post videos that are applicable to the business. Whether it is a commercial or more information pertaining to the business, the option to add videos makes the Google site all the more attractive to potential customers.