How Should Small Business Owners Deal with Negative Online Reviews?

Millions of small business owners across the country are likely trying to improve their standings in their communities and online, but one thing that may hamper their abilities to do so is dealing with negative reviews posted on popular websites in a way that doesn’t necessarily benefit them.

Many owners who deal with the general public on a daily basis know that positive reviews and word-of-mouth can be a boon to their bottom lines over time, but many may likewise worry about negative attention posted onto sites like Yelp which could turn off some potential customers, according to a report from USA Today. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a right and a wrong way to manage public perception of one’s company when trying to remediate the issues that potentially led to a negative review.

Potential customers who read these sites and see a negative review here and there may not necessarily put a lot of stock in them; they could simply be the result of a person who had one isolated experience that wasn’t totally to their liking, the report said. But how companies deal with these issues could make all the difference. Recently, an Arizona baking company made headlines around the world because its owners posted irrational, long, angry responses to negative comments made on its Facebook page among other online destinations, which only led to additional negative feelings about the company. If anything, the incident increased the company’s visibility, but did so in such a way that consumers all around the globe only know it as the bakery that freaked out about negative reviews.

How should smart owners handle them?
It’s probably impossible for most small business owners to avoid negative reviews altogether, as they can happen for almost any reason, so it’s probably wise to come up with something of an internal or personal policy for dealing with them, the report said. While it’s often wise to reach out to the person who posted such a review and see what’s at the heart of their negative feelings, and then try to deal with the issues as best one can, doing so in an improper way could only draw further negative attention to one’s company.

For this reason, it’s wise for owners to read a negative review and then try at all costs to avoid responding to it right away, the report said. Things said in the heat of the moment, for instance, can be difficult to manage from a public perception standpoint, and while no one likes to have the company into which they are pouring so much of their time, energy and passion insulted, it might be wiser to think of this as something of an opportunity. Again, negative reviews are likely unavoidable, but if those who read them also note that the company did all it could to address the complainer’s problems and “make it right,” they might even come away thinking that much better of the company because of those efforts.

Positive reviews, meanwhile, can lead to more business which in turn improves a company’s ability to expand, but owners should keep in mind that doing so might necessitate that they pay higher prices for various small business insurance policies. As a result, shopping around to find the most affordable workers’ compensation or general liability insurance and other types of coverage that are typically necessary to successfully operating a company. This may help to improve an enterprise’s bottom line and in turn increase their abilities to expand in the future.