In our last article on online reviews we discussed how they can affect your business and reputation, how they work alongside SEO to make your brand more present, and also suggested strategies for getting your clients to post positive reviews of your business online.

In this edition, we will explore the ways in which your business should be responding to reviews, how to handle negative ones, and will also give some much needed attention to the practice of writing your own, or paying someone for fake reviews.

These are all important considerations for any business with an online presence, so let’s jump right in at the point of responding to positive reviews.

How do you Respond to Positive Reviews?

A positive review is more than just a badge for your brand to wear; it presents the ideal opportunity for you to interact with your existing consumers, and to show potential ones that you care about your reputation.

When you become aware of a positive review of your business, it is generally in your best interest to respond to it. Ignoring it is an option, and it’s one that positive reviews give you the luxury of having. For bad reviews, on the other hand, no response should still be seen as a response; and not a good one at that.

Thank the Customer

When you spot a positive review and are able to give a response (perhaps it’s on your Facebook Business page), take the time to do so and thank the consumer for their input. This shows other users that you are actively engaged with your community, and appreciate what they have to say.

Use Your Company Name & Keywords in Your Reply

Use your response as an opportunity to spread your brand around the web. If you have any particular keywords that your website ranks for, find a way to naturally fit them into your response. It is also a good idea to use your company name, raising the chance that a search for it might call up the positive review.

Take the Chance to Promote Yourself

In your response, take the opportunity to conduct some bite-sized marketing. If you have any promotions going on, new products or a desire to upsell the user, mention your offers in your reply.

Give the Client a Call-to-Action

As it is with almost any content your brand associates itself with, make sure you include a call-to-action. It need not be a massive paragraph, a simple ‘contact us for details’ will suffice.

How do you Handle Negative Reviews?

Now let’s go to the more uncomfortable side of reviews, the negative ones, and how your business chooses to deal with them. It might be tempting to sweep them under the rug and soldier on with business, but remember that giving no response, is in fact a response in itself.

When replying to negative reviews, take care to swallow your pride. A snotty response will likely only get you a negative backlash.

Be Prompt

There’s no point in replying two years later, people want to believe that their grievances are being met in a timely manner. Showing other users who might be reading the review that you don’t handle criticism quickly, basically shows them that you aren’t interested in taking action.

Be Polite

Swallow your pride. If Jane Doe decided to use choice vocabulary to describe your business, an equally aggressive rebuttal will just make you look even worse. Be polite, courteous and helpful wherever you can. It shows customers that you are willing to learn from your mistakes instead of being characterised by them.

Don’t Air Your Laundry

Need to settle a dispute? Has someone given a review of your business unfairly? Are you struggling with defamation? These are all legitimate grievances that need to be dealt with, but they need to be handled outside of public view.

Take the matter offline, don’t have it out on review sites or social media. This will make your business look unappealing to anybody watching the show.

Do Your Best to Bury Them

When all else fails and that stubborn negative review has been rectified by your service department but still lingers glaringly in SERPs, you have few other options but to try and bury it. This is far more easily said than done, and is also not a great way to mask a persistently bad service.

SEO is one of the best approaches here, and the goal is to get your own content to rank above the nasty review. Take to social, update your profiles, get your company name in there, use your keywords, ensure that your SEO is watertight, write articles and try your best to beat their ranking.

Is it OK to Write Your Own Reviews?

Let’s tackle the fake review elephant in the room, because it happens more often than most marketers would like to admit, some of them may even go as far as to say that there is nothing fake about writing your own, but things are not as simplistic as that.

When was the last time you read a review from an employee at a company, stating that the review was about the company they were working for? They exist, albeit they are few and far between. If the review looks like this, then by all means, write it yourself.

Writing your own reviews on behalf of your customers, however, is completely unacceptable in any given situation. It is misleading and no way to start a relationship with potential clients who are reading them.

Keep doing it, and it won’t take long before someone spots similarities in all of your reviews (and those netizens out there can spot BS from a mile away), and when that happens, negative reviews will be the last of your problems since you will likely have a public relations nightmare on your hands and a communal loss in trust that only drastic action will ever recover, if you’re lucky.

If you’re unlucky, a fake positive review can actually be considered as false advertising, which could result in some serious heat from the Advertising Standards Authority, an independent regulating body for the advertising industry in South Africa.

If you want to generate reviews for your business, it is a better idea to stick to the suggestions  offered in part one of our review articles, such as using review cards and incentives for staff members whose actions result in positive feedback.

Contact Right Click Media for Online Reputation Management Services

Looking to build your online reputation and brand through an agency that puts your best foot forward? Contact a representative from Right Click Media today, or visit our website for additional details on our offers.

John Ottolman

John Ottolman

John Ottolman: Keyword whisperer, content creator, researcher and OCD stricken editor. The imprints of keyboard letters have long-since embossed themselves on his finger-tips. Thirsty for knowledge and hungry to share it, he is here to provide insights from the digital industry.

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