Merrick, NY—While one school of thought says that 'any publicity is good publicity,' those who end up with a bad online review would disagree.
While many places (such as Angie’s List and Amazon) publish reviews online, a good amount of the ones that are likely to impact you are on Yelp (http://www.yelp.com.) As of June 30, 2014, Yelp had 138 million monthly visitors and 61 million reviews. Reviewers encompass a wide demographic of both age and income. And of that, 23% of reviews are in the shopping category.
Do you know what YOUR Yelp review says about your store? If you haven't checked lately, take a look. It's time to find out what the Internet is saying about you.
Besides checking Yelp, do some general Googling. Try '[business name], city, state, reviews.' Then replace reviews with 'good reviews' and 'bad reviews.' Follow the links and see what they say. If the news is good, then that's great. Make it a routine practice to check the review, or, better yet, set up a Google Alert (use the search term above).
And if the news isn't good? If that's the case, it's time to do some damage control. Here are a few general tips, plus links to more in-depth research on this important topic:
1) Don't panic. The not-so-great review inadvertently has made your profile look more real. Respond online so all those searchers can see your reply. More.
2) Fix the problem and/or please the customer. Show off your customer service skills. More.
3) Don't work on the problem when you are still angry! Cool off and be professional or let another staff member handle it. More.
4) Keep the entire matter in context. One review will likely not make or break you, unless you lose your cool entirely and then get sent to be evaluated for good mental health. True story here.
5) In the end, you need to manage your customer reviews. More.
One good and bad thing about the Internet is that it offers you another channel for customer service. While most customers may still take the time and effort to let you know they are unhappy, others will comment online. Yelp has changed its policies over the years and now allows business owners to respond to comments. Other sites allow you to comment and interact with your online customer base.
The bottom line: online reviews are here to stay. And assuming your business is here to stay as well, it's time for you to have a process for dealing with online reviews.