How To Respond To Bad Online Reviews in 6 Steps

 

Getting a bad online review for your small business can be frustrating and, in some cases, feel like the end of the world. You work hard to create happy customers and then someone leaves a bad comment. There is a six-step approach every small business owner should take when it comes to reading and reacting to bad online reviews.

It Is Not Personal

A bad online review of your business is just that; a review of your business. It is not a personal attack on you or your family. When you see a bad online review, your best course of action is to take a deep breath and walk away. Let the comment sit overnight and then go at it again with a clearer head and a more rational mindset.

Is It Real?

There are services available online that will write bad reviews about any business as long as the service gets paid. Before you launch into any type of response to a bad review, you should do your research and find out if it is a legitimate review or not. If the platform hosting the review is known for posting fake customer opinions, then contact the site and ask for proof that the review is genuine. In most cases, the site will simply take the review down. But if you prove the review is real, then you need to move quickly onto the next step.

Is It A Legitimate Complaint?

Good business owners use negative reviews as ways to find and resolve issues within their business. If you look at the context of the review and realize that the reviewer is right, then you can post a response thanking them for their comment and letting them know that the problem will be resolved. If the complaint seems to be nonsensical, then you can respond by asking the one who complained to contact you in a private conversation and provide more details.

Do Not Let It Get Out Of Hand

No matter how you are handling a bad online review, you do not want to allow the situation to get out of hand in a manner that the public can see. Your initial acknowledgment and your promise to solve the problem are posted publicly to show that you are working on the issue. But then you should ask the customer to contact you in a private conversation. If they persist on posting private information on the public conversation, then ask again for them to contact you privately. If they refuse to contact you privately, then you should stop responding.

Be Sincere

Whether you are right or wrong in this discussion, you should always offer a sincere apology. This means that you do not offer a template apology that does not apply to this particular situation because insincerity will not only anger the customer, but it could draw more angry people into the conversation. You should write a quick and personal apology that indicates acceptance of the customer's inconvenience and a willingness to solve the problem.

Learn

If you are getting a lot of bad online reviews about the same subject, then you have a pattern that has to be addressed. Your company can learn a lot about creating happy customers by paying attention to online reviews and watching for trends.

Online reviews can help boost your business, even if those reviews are bad. As long as you address bad online reviews properly, your company should be able to solve problems and create satisfied customers with the sincere manner in which you handle each situation.

4 Growth Hacking Tips For Your Business

It is a tough job to grow a small business, but it does not need to be impossible. There are plenty of growth hacks you can use that will help you to find immediate and long-term success for your business. Sometimes you have to change your business vision a little, but it doesn't matter what you have to change so long as you find success.

Focus On One Thing - But Still Evolve

One of the most unfortunate lessons new entrepreneurs learn is that their core business idea might not wind up being the thing their company is good at. For example, you might start out as a retail store that specializes in selling vinyl records. Your passion is vinyl records and you try everything to create a successful business. You must focus on vinyl records if you want to find any success, so you remain intent on your success.

Every once in a while, someone asks you for a stereo component that you can order from your wholesaler. You do not want to sell stereos or stereo components, but something about the way your company handles stereo customers brings in word of mouth business. At that point, your company must evolve. You must shift your focus to one thing if you want to survive - stereo components and stereos. By focusing on one thing but allowing your business to evolve, you will be able to change with the needs of your customers and find that one thing your business does very well.

Outsource

If your company is not built to do marketing, then outsource your marketing. If you are not an accounting company, then outsource your accounting. Part of focusing on doing one thing well is making sure that you are not investing time or money into tasks that are important to your company, but are not part of your core business.

Function As One Unit

Product development and product marketing are not two exclusively different functions. Too many companies allow an environment of "we make it, but they market it" to live between all departments in their organizations. If you want your business to grow, then there needs to be constant interaction between all departments and your company needs to learn to function as one cohesive unit.

Get Your Customers Involved

Does your company website have testimonials from your customers? If no, why not? Do your social media pages have a place where your customers can post pictures of them happily using your product? If no, why not? The more involved you allow your customers to get in your business, the more emotionally responsible those customers will feel for your company's success. Engage your customers to get feedback on product, tell others how much they love your products, and get ideas on how to improve product features and marketing in the future.

There are not quick steps to business success, but there are things you can do that will help enhance the growth of your business. One of the most important steps towards business growth is hiring a digital marketing agency that will help you make sense of how you can gain customers using the Internet. The more you do to promote growth within your company, the more success you will find with your long and short-term projects.

5 Platforms to Digitally List Your Local Business

Your local customers are using the Internet to find what they are looking for, and you are missing out on a lot of business if you do not take advantage of the digital advertising outlets available. There are plenty of ways your business can reach local customers and be seen in the search results for people outside your local area who are looking for businesses in your city.

Search Engine Registration

Google has a dynamic registration service for local businesses that not only allows your business to appear at the top of local business searches, but it also allows your customers with Google accounts to leave reviews regarding your business. Other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo! also offer local business registration services that will get your business seen by more local consumers.

Directories

If you have not investigated the world of local and national online directories, then it is time for you to start looking at them. Some directories charge a fee while others are free for businesses to use, but they all offer plenty of value. You can put your business in local search directories run by companies such as the Yellow Pages and local marketing companies, and you can also include your business in national search directories as well. With national directories, your company will be seen by people who are looking for your type of business in your geographic area.

Review Websites

Many smaller, local businesses avoid getting involved in large review websites such as Yelp, but that is a mistake. Consumers in your area are utilizing these types of websites to make buying decisions, and good reviews for your website can mean more business. There are a lot of review websites consumers utilize, and your business needs to be listed in as many as possible to grab more of the local market share.

Referral Websites

Referral websites, such as Angie's List, are versions of review websites, but they come with a cost for the users. The idea is that charging consumers to review businesses and benefit from referrals will bring in more legitimate reviews. Some referral websites require businesses to pay to be a part of their service, some do not. But with more people relying on Internet referrals to choose what business they will patronize, it is your best interests to get involved in the referral websites that permeate your local industry.

Social Media

Social media can be an invaluable resource in growing your business with local customers, but it is not something you should try on your own. For businesses, the social media landscape has become so complicated that it does require a marketing professional to maximize your exposure. But a social media presence managed by an experienced digital marketing firm can help you to reach out to local customers, establish customer bonds, and grow your revenue.

Your local customers are on the Internet, and you need to be there too if you want to grow your business. With help from an experienced and qualified digital marketing agency, you can utilize the many tools on the Internet to reach more local customers and bring in more revenue. If you do not take the time to be successful in your own local area, then being successful anywhere else in the country is going to be extremely difficult.

3 Tips to Growing Your Business Organically

What does it mean to grow your business organically in the digital age? In the very early days of the Internet, a company's SEO status was able to be enhanced with links bought from brokers, content that was crammed with keywords, and content that had nothing to do with the website but brought in traffic.

In 2012, Google started to bring the hammer down on people who would artificially inflate their traffic numbers using these various methods. Organic growth online means the accumulation of web traffic by using online partnerships, relevant content, and content that is written to meet certain guidelines.

It takes a lot longer to grow website traffic organically, but that traffic also delivers more paying customers on a consistent basis than the traffic that was bought and paid for. Every once in a while, Google tightens up the guidelines for organic web traffic, but the general rule of creating traffic rather than buying it always exists.

Links

In the old days, companies would set up a series of bogus websites and link their clients to those sites. When the search engines saw websites with a lot of links, they would move those websites higher up in the rankings. Today, Google has ways of making sure that the links on your website are not purchased. If you do have purchased links on your website, you will receive a harsh Google penalty.

Links should be acquired through marketing partnerships with companies that are complimentary to your business. For example, your printing company can reach out to shipping companies to create a series of links that add value to both sets of websites, and give value to clients as well. Putting links into websites these days is long and hard work, but it is worth it.

Content

Prior to Google's actions of 2012, most content on websites was driven by keywords. Marketing experts would determine which keywords were popular in their clients' industries, and then they would create content stuffed with those keywords. Some marketing companies even put in articles with keywords that had nothing to do with their client's industry, but were popular with the general public.

If you want to grow your web presence organically, you need to develop content that is relevant to your website and offers value to your clients. Keyword stuffing will get your website one of those Google penalties that can take months to recover from. All of your content needs to be helpful to your audience, and it should not focus on keywords to bring in traffic.

Social Media

Social media is an excellent way to market your business to millions of people and bring organic traffic to your website. Businesses should rely on experienced digital marketing companies to manage their social media accounts because many social media platforms have very specific rules on how businesses can market to customers. But if you get it right, social media can be an excellent way to grow your online business organically and increase revenue.

Google made sweeping changes in the search engine industry in 2012, and it continues to modify its rules regarding how businesses can attract traffic. Today, organic traffic that is developed through hard work and proper marketing techniques is the best way to go, and it is also a great way to build traffic that will actually make your website money.

President Trump’s Affect On Your Business

On November 8, 2016, the American public did what seemed like the most unlikely thing it could do and voted a billionaire with no political experience into the White House. With real estate investor Donald Trump prepared to be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017, a lot of business owners are wondering what Trump's changes could mean for their businesses. Depending on what your business does, the answers could encourage you or make you think it is time to start closing your doors.

Government Contracting Will Get A Lot More Difficult

Donald Trump has proposed tax cuts and government programs that will reduce how much the federal government has to spend. It is estimated that around $6 billion will be slashed from the federal budget each year, and that money will probably come out of programs administered by federal contractors. If your business currently relies on government contracting as a major way to generate revenue, then it may be time to find a new line of work.

Trade Will Be Difficult

Donald Trump's rhetoric on the campaign trail was venomous when it came to trade with Mexico and China. Many economic experts fear that the actions Trump will take, including creating a new 45 percent trade tariff on all of China's incoming goods, will launch a trade war with China that the United States is ill-equipped to win. Either way, if you currently do business with China or Mexico, you may want to start finding customer or suppliers in other countries as of January 20, 2017.

That $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage Movement Will Probably Be Stopped

While many states have been adopting $15 per hour minimum wage laws, there has been pressure on the federal government to do the same thing. President Obama indicated that he would consider raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, but Donald Trump has made it clear that $10 per hour is as high as he is willing to go.

Alternative Energy Will Come To A Screeching Halt

If your business is involved in alternative energy such as solar or wind energy, then you will probably see a lot of the financial assistance you were getting from the federal government disappear. Donald Trump has indicated that he is more interested in investing in fuel resources such as coal and oil found in the United States, and plans to all but discontinue American investment in alternative fuels.

Immigrant Labor Will Be Hard To Get

If you rely on legal immigrant labor to generate revenue, then you have probably been using the H-1B visa program to bring in the workers you need. Donald Trump has vowed to tighten up that program and require that an American worker be hired before even allowing an H-1B application to be submitted.

Whether you like Donald Trump or not, the one certain thing is that change is coming for all American businesses. Whether it is good change or bad change depends on what policies a President Trump will change or create, and how those new policies affect your business. While a president who says that he is bent on restoring the working middle class in the United States sounds like a great idea, the way that president goes about putting people back to work will dictate how much of a success his ideas will be.

What President Trump Will Mean to Small Business

After what can only be described as the political upset of the century, billionaire Donald Trump was elected president over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on November 8, 2016. Many small businesses had been fearing a Trump win based mostly on the things Trump had been saying when he was campaigning.

When Trump gave his victory speech, he seemed more presidential and in touch with the issues than he had been on the campaign trail. Small businesses hope they get the President Trump that was on display during the victory speech, but many fear that candidate Trump will be the one making decisions after January 20, 2017.

Undocumented Workers

One of the dirty little secrets of the business world that is not such a real secret is the use of nearly seven million undocumented workers to do jobs Americans would not do. Donald Trump promised during his campaign that he would round up all undocumented workers and deport them. If he keeps that promise, it could have two devastating effects.

First of all, the estimated cost to throw out around seven million illegal aliens in the United States is around $1.6 trillion, which is a burden the economy cannot handle. Secondly, the loss of undocumented workers to small businesses around the country could be devastating and cause a wave of business closings.

Affordable Health Care Act

Donald Trump and many other Republicans have been indicating for years that they will repeal President Obama's Affordable Care Act when given the chance. Many political experts think that President Trump's first act will be to repeal the ACA and go back to a system where health insurance and healthcare were state issues.

For small businesses, this could be a good or bad thing. The unknown status of what President Trump will use to replace the ACA has many small business owners on edge. If the new system pushes costs towards employers even more, then this could have a catastrophic effect for small businesses.

International Trade

The two words that political experts were thinking but afraid to say whenever they listed to Donald Trump on the campaign trail were "trade war." Not only does Donald Trump want to build a wall on the Mexican-American border and have Mexico pay for it, but he also wants to slap a 35 percent trade tariff on Mexico. Those suggestions got the international trade community buzzing, but when Donald Trump announced he would put a new 45 percent trade tariff on China, the fears of a trade war started coming to the surface.

Taxes

One area where President Trump may help small businesses is in the area of corporate taxes. Trump said he is going to put a tax of 15 percent on businesses, which is down from the current 35 percent. While this tax decrease will be more geared towards helping wealthy corporations, it will also offer some tax relief to small businesses.

No matter what your politics may be, the election of Donald Trump to the office of President of the United States was a surprise. After months of campaign rhetoric that tended to get people talking for all of the wrong reasons, the American small business community now waits to see if Trump will keep all of his bold campaign promises.