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Are negative reviews killing your business?

Are you looking at the reviews people are posting about your business? Are you checking Google, Yahoo, Yelp and dozens of other places where people can post comments about your business? If not, negative reviews can be killing your business.

Take a look at the following example:

The above is a listing from yelp.com for “animal hospitals” in Naperville, Illinois. Which one would you click on first? Which one would you click on last? Exactly!

Most people click on the 5-star listings first. When they run out of 5-star companies, they look at the 4-star businesses. The 1 and 2 star businesses often don’t get considered at all.

It doesn’t matter if the vet with 2 and a half stars has changed his staff and taken customer service lessons. Even if he has great recent reviews, it’s not going to matter until his stars go way up. Meanwhile the advantage goes to the businesses with 4 and 5 star ratings. Even if they have just one review.

User-generated content is the biggest boon or threat to small business today. Why? It only takes a few great reviews to send more customers to a business. Conversely, it takes only a few bad reviews to make prospective customers choose the competition over you.

Example: A potential customer search for “italian restaurants chicago” on her cellphone. Review websites like Yelp and Google Places come up on the first page of results. If your Italian restaurant has bad reviews, it’s easy for people to click and go to the Italian restaurant with great reviews.

Certainly bad businesses should change or die. But, reviews may not be fair and they may not even be true. They can be written by people who constantly complain, disgruntled employees who want to hurt you, or even your competition. Because of the anonymous nature of most review websites, it’s hard to know who’s posting what. Unwarranted negative reviews can put good businesses at risk.

Businesses need to be proactive in this area. They need to repair the damage done, then constantly monitor and vigorous manage their online reputations.

A business that gets a bad review can become a hero or a jerk, depending on how they handle their response to negative reviews. If they respond to the person who posted the review and offer to make it right (whatever it was), they can help potential customers see that they want to do what’s right.

However, a business can look worse if they respond poorly. For example, recently I read several negative reviews about a small business. The owner responded to each complaint, starting with “You are a cyberbully.” It made me wonder why ALL of his reviews negative.

Here’s how to check out what people are saying about your business. Go to Google.com. Type in your business name and city. Do review sites such as Google Places, Yelp, CitySearch, Insiderpages and others come up? If so, how is your business ranked?

Do you have several unfair or untrue negative reviews online? What can be done about it?

We help clients with Online Reputation Repair, Management and Monitoring. Find out what can be done about your negative reviews. To get a Free 15-minute Strategy Session phone 773-539-9309

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