Client reviews are an important part of your marketing – and one which you have relatively little control over. There is nothing you can do to get a client to post a good review or not post a bad one, other than doing the best job you can overall.

Controlling your online reputation, though, does involve encouraging positive reviews and doing damage control for bad ones. Regardless of your business, you need to keep a good reputation online. Your clients overwhelmingly use the internet to find you in the first place, and they need to see that you can do the job. 90% are likely to take into account the reviews they see to some degree, and 67% list it as one of their top two criteria. Unfortunately, people are often more likely to post a negative review than a positive one, which can put businesses in a difficult position. Here are some tips:

Do:

  1. Solicit reviews from your satisfied clients. Ask them to review you on major review sites such as Facebook and Yelp. Make it part of requesting feedback overall, including asking them to tell you directly what you can improve and it will seem less like begging for marketing help. You might want to put together a satisfaction survey. Add to the survey links to the sites you would like them to leave reviews on. Always ask for an honest review, don’t openly “beg” for a good one.
  2. Check, or have somebody check, the major review sites for positive and negative reviews. Bear in mind you will come across negative reviews. It can be better to hire a review tracking service or ask a thick-skinned secretary to do it so you are not angered by things (true or otherwise) people are saying online.
  3. Augment positive reviews. If you know who posted the review, ask to put it on your website in a testimonials page. You can also always link to positive reviews or share them on social media.
  4. Make sure to claim your profile on directory sites in your industry. This will protect you from impersonation as well as increase the value of positive reviews. Also claim your profile on Google Plus, Yelp, etc. Keep it up to date (people get angry if they think you can offer a service you can’t).
  5. Regularly search for both yourself and your firm’s name so you know all the things being said about you (Again, if this might make you angry, get a thicker skinned employee to do it).
  6. Practice the best customer service you can, including regular communication and building a good relationship. Some suggest Skype over phone because it is more personal.
  7. Address issues that come up consistently in negative reviews. If one customer says it, it could be a bad day or somebody who just loves to complain. If it’s three or four, then you may have a problem.
  8. Contact the review site if the bad review is provably untrue or appears to have been written by a competitor. They will generally not remove bad reviews, but may do so if the review is malicious or written by the competition.

Don’t’s

  1. Let yourself get mad about online reviews. If you can’t control your anger, then walk away from your computer and do something else for a bit. If you find it difficult then, as mentioned above, get a calm, thick-skinned secretary or other employee to do the review checking for you.
  2. Defend yourself from negative reviews. Even if the bad review really is untrue, don’t go on the review site and try to tell everyone that. It will only make the review look more true. Avoid responding to negative reviews. Remember they are not for you but for other customers. Oh, and if you know who left the review, don’t track them down and yell at them. That’s a great way to get a reputation for being a jerk. Instead, respond with an apology (a proper one, not “I’m sorry you’re upset”) and invite them to contact you to resolve the situation. Always make any responses to negative reviews polite and professional. Consider writing a template you can insert specific words into as this can help you avoid negative language.
  3. Copy reviews onto your site without asking. This might seem like a great way to augment positive reviews. it’s also a great way to piss off a previously satisfied client if they feel that their copyright has been violated. Instead, ask for a copy of the review with your satisfaction survey and ask then if they will allow it to be posted. Also, directly copying too many reviews can affect your site’s search engine rating – so do so sparingly.
  4. Post positive reviews of your own business. This is a quick way to get banned from posting to that review site and if it comes out it will make you look terrible. (Also, don’t post negative reviews of your competition. I shouldn’t have to say it, but people do).

Online reviews are part of doing business in the modern world – and often an unpleasant part, but dealing with them in the correct way can help you build your reputation and help clients. Doing it wrong can be a quick way to being known as “that” person. The most important thing is never to let yourself get mad about online reviews, but instead deal with them in a calm – and professional – manner.

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