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Are Online Reviews Killing Your Business?

Online reviews can be both a blessing and a curse for small business owners, but one thing is clear: they’re here to stay. And whether they’re a thorn in your side or the primary path customers take to reach your door, it’s a smart idea to actively monitor and control your online reputation. Here are a few tips that help you make the most of positive reviews and mitigate the damage caused by negative ones.

1. Know what’s out there.

The two most popular review sites are Yelp and Googleplaces. These are the sites potential customers are most likely to visit before they buy your products or make the effort to drive all the way out to your store. Periodically check in with these sites (or just run the name of your business through a search engine) so you know what your potential customers are seeing.

2. Control your online footprint.

If you maintain a webpage, blog, Facebook profile, and Twitter feed for your business, that’s great. But if you’re spending your days staring at these profiles instead of improving your product and interacting with your customers, that’s not so great. Use Hootsuite or a similar dashboard product that can allow you to monitor activity on all your social media sites at once. Or better yet, save time by enlisting the help of a digital marketing firm to handle these things for you.

3. Deal intelligently and diplomatically with customer complaints.

Better yet, keep them from happening in the first place. Do this by making it very easy for customers to handle their complaints and make their voices heard without going online. Leave an easy digital complaint form on your website, leave paper forms at your front desk, and train your staff to hear customer complaints and respond to them appropriately. Most of the time, negative online reviews happen after angry customers are left with no other outlet.

4. Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews.

If customers are especially happy with your product or service, remind them to go online and help you spread the word. But take note: it’s never a good to publish fake reviews (or insist that your employees publish them). This can backfire in a big way. And it goes without saying, but the same rule applies to fake negative reviews of your local competitors. Work hard to earn respect within your community.

For more information on strengthening your online reputation or hiring a digital marketing firm to handle this aspect of your growing business, reach out to the NC staffing and small business management experts at PSU.