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You Can’t Please Everyone

Whenever I hear this saying, I think of my brother. As kids, our parents took us to the beautiful Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia. We visited in spring when the tulips were in bloom and the trees were covered in blossoms. At the end of our visit wandering through this beautiful natural landscape, we went to sign the guest book. I watched as my brother thought for a moment, and then quickly jotted down, “Too many flowers.”

However, it isn’t just kids who scoff at sights like these. This National Post article demonstrates that even national parks in Canada and the U.S. take a beating on review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Reviews. If these natural wonders get a bashing, it’s no surprise that restaurants, spas, and other small businesses receive negative reviews, sometimes deserved, sometimes not. In any case, reputation management is key when it comes to protecting the company name.

The Importance of a Public First Response

If a business gets a negative review, it shouldn’t ignore it. A company needs to acknowledge the review as soon as possible and do so publicly. Why? It’s crucial that the reviewer and everyone else who sees the review recognizes that the business owner cares about customers. Negative reviews will often remain online for years, but so will a company’s responses to them. People will read through various reviews before deciding to book a table at a restaurant, make an appointment with a doctor, or buy a dress at a boutique. Thus, it’s imperative that as much positivity as possible appears on online review sites.

Crafting an appropriate response to a negative review should be done when cool and collected. A reactive, defensive response is not a good idea. Rather, a business owner should calmly sit down and thank the reviewer for the feedback. Then, Yelp suggests specifically describing how the reviewer’s feedback has helped improve business practices, customer service, etc.

Private Follow-Up = Reputation Management Best Practice

Beyond publicly responding to negative feedback, a business owner can suggest that the reviewer discuss the issue further via email or phone. This private consultation may yield more specific details and clarification necessary for the business owner to truly address the reviewer’s concerns. The business owner can suggest that the reviewer give their company another chance to serve them again. However, it isn’t appropriate to offer them free merchandise or try to incentivize them in any way to take down their negative review. The best chance a business can have of getting that review removed or revised by the reviewer is through addressing their concerns personally, in a thoughtful, professional manner.

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