A good friend of mine recently took over the management of a business. He knew there were challenges going into it, the business was slow, morale was low, and there were a ton of missed opportunities; new and returning business was passing them by.

Improving the business is a multi-pronged approach:

Improve the team by re-engaging them, making them feel valued again.
Improve the level of service and products being offered.
Provide consistent delivery of said products and services.
Seems pretty easy, doesn’t it?

The most complex challenge is improving the online reputation of the business, because this should have been the easiest aspect to improve public perception of the business, and yet it was disastrously overlooked by the previous owner.

Looking at the reviews (posted on Google) under the previous owner, I’m not sure why anyone would visit the establishment. Further, for every positive review, there was a glowing “thank you” from the owner. Negative comments… not a peep. This was the owner’s opportunity to jump in and show that he was willing to turn the customer’s opinion around, offering discounts on a next visit, asking for further detail, or even just publicly acknowledging the misstep. Perhaps he did privately, but it’s this public forum that matters. If someone takes the time to provide constructive comments about your company, show them you care enough to follow up and take those comments to heart. Maybe there’s nothing you can do to change their opinion, maybe there is, the point is to try.

I understand that taking care of a business can be time consuming on its own, and this is adding another layer of challenge to an already crazy schedule, so how can you get ahead of negative reviews?

First, misery loves company, so one untended negative review will bring about another.
Check in with your team – perhaps getting someone involved to check your site daily will help encourage accountability and take the responsibility off your shoulders.
Encourage reviews overall – the more reviews you have, the less negative reviews will hurt your online reputation. Send reminders for reviews in emails or print them on invoices.
Simply put, your customers make buying decisions before they ever walk thru your door. Great products, a stellar team, and exemplary customer service mean nothing if you can’t get you, the customer, there. Think about one of your recent buying experiences, how much did online reviews impact your decision? When you see one or two star reviews, with “poor service” comments, are you likely to spend your hard earned money there? What if they don’t have any reviews? Are they still in business? What is going on, that no one wants to say anything, positive or negative, about them?

Author's Bio: 

Peggy Murrah is a unique combination of web and marketing savvy, along with dependability and resourcefulness. These qualities have been instrumental in her building a successful business which serves clientele across five continents. PMA Web Services provides marketing direction and strategies for entrepreneurs through mentoring, social media marketing, list building and management, and development/maintenance of their online presence.