How Negative Online Reviews Can Kill Your Business

In marketing, part of a good social media strategy would include getting your business listed in local search and actively asking customers for reviews.  I recently posted an article on why your local business benefits from online reviews. Think about the times you have had poor service or great service.  You may have complained or shared accolades directly to the business but in addition you probably picked up your mobile device and wrote a review on Google, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo,  Facebook or travel sites such as Trip Advisor.

Angry commenters have inundated the Yelp and Google Review pages for Palmer’s dental practice, and he has been vilified across social media, as #CecilTheLion became a top worldwide trending topic on Twitter.Washington Post

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Google Reviews

As consumers we now have the power to influence a business positively or negatively. The majority of reviews are positive, but if you receive many negative reviews it can have a damaging affect on any business.

This week in my home town of Minneapolis, MN there was a big story of a local practicing dentist whose hobby is big game hunting.  He killed a favorite lion on a game reserve in Africa.  The story has made the news globally as people became angered at the kill which has been reported by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune Newspaper that the “lion was illegally lured out of Hwange National Park, where it had protected status.”

Here in Minneapolis people showed their anger by showing up at the dental office and protesting in addition,  thousands of people have left comments on the dentists Google page, Facebook page and Yelp Page.

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Reviews on YELP

This is an extreme example of how quickly the public can affect your online reputation, but the point is simply that the public does react and often takes swift action.  How you manage your online reputation including reviews is critical to your success.

An opposite example is the Oprah affect.  Remember when Oprah endorsed products by claiming them as her favorite things every year?  By her huge public endorsement many businesses reaped the profits which were compounded by great customer reviews.

Here are 4 tips for managing your online reputation:

1.  Monitor your reviews frequently (services such as restaurants should monitor daily)

2.  Always respond to all comments.  Thank people for positive comments and always address negative reviews & resolve issues immediately.

3.  Respond to any general comments people leave on your social media sites letting them know you care and engage in conversation with them. Building rapport and good will ensures customers will come back and refer others.

4.  Actively encourage your customers to leave a review. Positive reviews build your credibility and that social proof is gold when it comes to potential customers making a decision to buy from you.

I don’t know how the dentist in Minnesota will regain trust with his patients after such disastrous press, and this is an extreme example but the point is that people have the power to make and break businesses by writing reviews and publicly declaring their favor or disdain. In this case, people have spoken loudly.