How Can Small Businesses Deal with Reviews Posted Online?

Many small businesses likely know exactly how helpful a good review posted on various sites that help connect consumers with businesses can be. Likewise, they probably know how a negative review can damage their standing in the community. For this reason, i's usually a good idea for owners to keep close tabs on these issues and try to increase their ratings on such sites in a number of ways.

The obvious thing that small business owners want to avoid when dealing with these sites is having negative reviews hurt their reputation, but the best way to do so isn't to scramble to get some online complaints removed, according to a report from the Intuit Small Business Blog. Instead, companies should respond to negative reviews thoughtfully and comprehensively, addressing the issues listed but being careful not to go too far to make up for what could be a person who has little reason to be this disgruntled.

"One of the most actionable things a business owner can do is respond to the reviewer privately and publicly, if possible," Jack Yu, co-founder of the online review site Reputology, told Intuit. "A number of businesses we've spoken to say that 70 to 80 percent of the time they can get an unhappy reviewer to change their mind or return to the store."

However, there's more to staying in customers' good graces online than trying to remediate issues related to negative reviews; owners should also try to encourage frequent customers to leave positive reviews on these sites as a means of bolstering their standings even further, the report said. Some sites allow companies to handle this a little more easily, but having overwhelmingly positive reviews on one or two of these sites might seem strange if others have mediocre ratings. It may also be possible to create contests for those leaving good reviews to get some sort of benefits, like free food or a gift certificate.

Of course, the point of positive reviews is ostensibly to help grow a business, and owners may want to make sure they are fully prepared for such changes to take place. This might include assessing all the small business insurance policies a company has in place, and seeing if there is any way to find savings on workers' compensation or general liability insurance policies, which can get more expensive as companies expand.