Turn a Negative into a Positive

Today, I set out to write a completely different piece than the one you are reading. But over the last few weeks, I ran into the issue of what to do with negative online reviews. Early last week, I had to deal with negative comments on a client’s social media page. A few days later, I sat in a Fresno Chamber social media seminar and heard multiple people ask questions on addressing negative reviews. And ten minutes before writing this, an article was emailed to me about handling negative online reviews. So really … the universe told me, repeatedly, what I should write today.

To start, you have to know that people are talking about your business whether you like it or not. What you don’t know can’t hurt you is definitely not the case when dealing with online reviews. Even if you haven’t set up a Yelp business page or Google Directory listing, you must know that the page has been created for you. And to be clear, Yelp isn’t just for restaurants. If you are a business, you can have a Yelp page. Even JP Marketing has one. So go on … take a quick second and look your business up in Yelp. I’ll wait…

Surprised at what you found? I know I was when I took the time to search a few of my favorite places – including the nail salon I frequent.

For informational purposes I’m going to focus on Yelp as it is very well known, but please be aware that there are many more sites to check. I use a third-party site called Yext.com to quickly see what my clients have claimed. You may find it useful as well.

So what if you have a few unflattering comments just sitting there? Follow these steps to help take charge of your online presence.

Claim Your Space

Most online review sites allow and encourage the business owners to take ownership of their pages and make it their own. Depending on the site, you can add store hours, business photos, a bio on the owner and company history.

Think of this review site as a landing page for your website. It’s just one more place that people can find out about you and what you offer. Take the opportunity to use this online space as much as you can.

Click here to see if you have claimed your Yelp page.

Answer Reviews for Everyone To See

Now this is the important one. Don’t hide. If you get a negative comment, the best thing you can do it take it head-on. Nobody likes confrontation. Especially in writing, but when handled properly it can be to your benefit.

You must acknowledge the review and try to remedy it for everyone to see. The goal of this is to show other online visitors that you are a responsive company who cares about what your customers have to say.

Here is an example of how to answer a real Yelp review I found for a Fresno restaurant:

Service was ok, but food was absolutely horrific. We ordered an eggplant appetizer, which was suggested to us by the owner herself. Turns out 5 pieces of nasty deep fried eggplant was $16! That’s a meal right there. Was not impressed at all. Food was drowned in sauce. Steak was undercooked, and we had to wait 15 mins. just to get our food boxed up. Am not going there again. – Dee D.

Suggested answer: Dee, I am so sorry to hear your experience was less than amazing and that the appetizer I suggested was not to your liking. I will contact you offline as I would like to make this experience up to you and invite you back to try us again. I know we will impress you the next time. Best wishes, owner Tanya.

The goal is for the business to problem-solve rather than argue. Never insult the commenter and never try and point fingers. Acknowledge the problem and offer a solution. Then send them a private message with the details on how you would like to remedy the situation. It could be as simple as a written apology or an invitation to come back – on the house.

Check Back

You aren’t Ron Popeil, you can’t just set it and forget it. Once you get your online reviews cleaned up, make sure you check back. Depending on your business you may need to check back every day while others can check back weekly. Either way, you want to keep up with what others are saying about you and if you do encounter another negative review, at least you will be equipped with the tools to answer in a timely manner and hopefully turn the bad review into a positive outcome.

This is a daunting project, I know. BUT once you get it done you will look and feel so much better about your online presence. And if you ever run into an issue … I am always an email away.

~ Tanya Osegueda, Outreach & New Media Manager