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Michael S.

My firm was rethinking its marketing approach. Our revised plan necessitated a downsizing of the services provided by LinkNow. The LinkNow staff was very helpful in facilitating this change. There was no “hard sell” or other pressure trying to get my firm to maintain its previous higher priced plan. This was a relief and encourages us to look to LinkNow later when we are more appropriately positioned to use LinkNow’s higher priced site optimization/marketing plans.

A concept image of a magnifying glass with a wooden handle on a textured white surface showing the word authentic but magnifying the word fake resembling counterfeitting

Receiving Fake Reviews From Competitors

In this day and age, dishonest companies have been able to stoop to new lows by attempting to damage their competitor’s reputation online with fake reviews.

While it may not be immediately obvious that a competitor is attacking you, a quick check through their other reviews should give you a clue. They are likely attacking other similar businesses in the area. If negative reviews are posted on other competitor’s pages within a tight timeframe, you’ve got the start of a case.

Fake and negative reviews are tricky to deal with. Always do your research before dealing with them, or you may be responding inappropriately to someone who is simply expressing their displeasure. Remember—there is such thing as a legitimate negative review. Take these as constructive criticism, and respond politely.

Tact at All Times

When responding to a fake negative review from your competitor, practice tact at all times. Whether this negative review is legitimate or not, treat it with the same respect. Follow these steps to compose a polite and professional response:

Breathe

Literally. Breathing exercises will calm you down, so take a few deep breaths.

Don’t take it personally.

A difficult one, but part of being a professional.

Address the issue.

Start your response off by repeating their complaint. For example: I understand that you (insert situation here).

State your core values.

Inform the reviewer of your business’ core values and why they don’t match with what happened.

Make a game plan.

Tell the reviewer what you plan to do to remedy the situation. If this is a competitor leaving a fake review, you likely will not actually do this because the situation did not occur. But, existing and potential customers will appreciate seeing what you would do if it really had happened.

Say thank you.

Thank the negative reviewer for their constructive criticism and invite them back to experience your business again in a better light sometime in the future.

Even if you expect this review to be removed, there will be wait time. Writing a proper response is of value to your future clients. Don’t lose business and allow your competitor to accomplish what they came to your review page for in the first place.

Keep on Keeping on

Being a business owner will always come with its ups and downs. This is what professionalism is all about! Practice being a professional adult at all times, flag inappropriate reviews and represent yourself well.

Should Google not agree with your report, you can always escalate the situation, encourage friends and family to flag the reviews as well, and tweet @GoogleSmallBiz to hurry the process along.

Like with school yard bullying, a reaction is always what a troll wants, so give them a minimal one. In the end, you make your own reputation in the business world and can overcome anything by keeping a cool head.

Business Owners’ Bad Review Responses A Case Study

Reviews are a fact of life when it comes to running a business.

They can be your best friend, or your worst enemy—depending on how you deal with them.

While it is tempting to write a scathing and entertaining response to people who leave negative reviews, as a professional, it is your duty to hold your tongue and not let your emotions do the thinking.

Below, are some examples of negative review responses, and how they could have been handled better.

1.

Where to start?

Firstly, admitting that you are inebriated when discussing a business issue is never OK. One shouldn’t be drunk in the first place when you’re on the clock (and yes, if you’re responding to reviews in your own time, that counts), but publicly admitting it is highly unprofessional. Next, making personal critiques (grammar) and suggesting a customer see a psychologist is not constructive. Especially when your own grammar and sanity could be up for review.

A more appropriate response to this review would be to apologize for their bad experience, and address the price issues. If your restaurant does have fluctuating prices, that should be noted in store and online so customers are prepared. There can certainly be reasons for this practice but it should be transparent so customers aren’t surprised.

2.

This one isn’t quite as extreme as the last, and could very well be true. However, this response is tinged with sarcasm and, if true, reveals unnecessary personal information. An apology in this case would have been better—state that you were unavailable for serious personal reasons, list that it was no excuse to not communicate with customers and let them know it won’t happen again. Offer them a discount or other incentive on a future booking should they be in town again.

If for some reason the situation is an emergency that keeps you away from your work, and you don’t have someone who can help you out with your business in this way, maybe think about hiring an assistant.

3.

As a business owner, your responses should not look like it was written by a ten year old

…and this one is a great example of what that means. Sure, this review was not the classiest, but the appropriate response would be to take the higher ground. As always, apologize! If you were having a bad day, admit that you were and say it was wrong of you to take it out on customers. Depending on what the prices are, they could be explained/defended in some way. Maybe point out that your aim is not to be cheap but to provide quality food.

What review responses come down to is the old adage “The customer is always right”. They may really not be, but your job as a business owner is to represent yourself and your company in the best way possible, no matter what others are provoking you to do. Responses can always be formulated to be reasonable even when defending oneself, but if you don’t have the time to compose something that is well thought out, apologies are the best policy.

Happy review reading, everyone!

Why Should Your Small Business Respond to Google Reviews?

garageWhen someone takes time to do something nice, you likely say thank you, almost reflexively. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be saying thank you online either, especially when it comes to Google Reviews.

Responding to Google Reviews can help your business out in more ways than one. Here are some reasons why you should respond to Google Reviews from LinkNow Media:

It’s Good Manners

From someone holding the elevator door to handing you your change, you say thank you many times throughout the day. It’s a nice thing to do and it acknowledges someone’s kindness, no matter how small it might be. If someone writes you a Google review, it only makes sense that you respond with a thank you just as you would in real life. Don’t overthink it. Let them know that you appreciate them taking time out of their day to let others know about your service or product.

It Helps SEO

You may not see the point in responding to something as simple as, “Great place” or “Good service”, but replying can help with your website’s position. After all, it isn’t like someone took a lot of time out of their day to write a long, glowing review. However, responding to a review, no matter how small, will encourage others to leave a review in the future. According to statistics, consumers are more likely to leave a review when they see that the business owner responds to reviews, and the more quality reviews you have, the better your search rankings will be.

It Builds Trust

When people are searching for a service that you offer, they are likely reading reviews from previous customers, and that means bad reviews, too. While receiving harsh criticism is never fun, it always a chance to show how far you will go to right a wrong. Demonstrate your ability to be professional, accept responsibility and offer up a solution.  This will show potential and current clients that your company is focused on client satisfaction.

Final Thoughts

What goes around comes around. If you are being nice online, people will see your kinds words and will think highly of you. Not to mention, being nice has its benefits when it comes online exposure. For instance, you’re always being cyber friendly and encouraging, other companies or clients may follow suite and return the favor!

Relaxation Techniques for Responding to Negative Online Reviews

zenWe talk a lot about the dos and don’ts when it comes to responding to negative reviews, and we always stress the importance of keeping your cool. Today, we’re going to take that advice one step further by providing you with a few relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to keep you level-headed when faced with a scathing review. Follow this advice from LinkNow Media and you can’t go wrong.

Mindfulness app

Stop, Breathe & Think is a guided meditation and mindfulness app that offers breathing techniques with the aim of assisting you in broadening your perspective, getting in touch with your emotions, and improving your reactions to stressful situations. Many of the exercises can be performed in under 10 minutes, so not having time is no excuse! When practiced regularly, this app can help reduce anxiety, increase compassion and enhance motivation. It has everything you need to respond to an unfavourable opinion about your business in a calm manner.

Inhale pink, exhale blue

Inhale pink, exhale blue is a breathing exercise that can regulate stress, relieve tension and improve your mood. This breathing exercise is practiced by bringing your awareness to your breath and imagining yourself inhaling pink and exhaling blue. Another variation of this exercise involves inhaling love and exhaling fear. Whichever one you choose, this awareness will help bring you to the present moment, which is integral to managing the emotional distress of whatever is front of you—in this case, harsh words about your service or product.

Stretch, stretch, stretch

Most people associate stretching with warming up or cooling down after physical exercise as a way improve flexibility and prevent injury. However, stretching can also do wonders for the mind too. This is because stretching regulates your heart rate and blood pressure, helping to promote mental calmness, which is key when it comes to responding to a negative review. Here you can find a handful of yoga poses and stretches that you can do at your work desk. Or, just simply touch your toes. Even something as small as this can help improve your mood to assist you in responding to a negative review without getting defensive.

Final Thoughts

Getting a negative review on Yelp or any other customer review website is never fun. If you are like most people, your response might be to go on the defense, but you need to find ways to avoid doing that. Being defensive isn’t going to help right a wrong, and it certainly won’t win over someone who is upset about your service. When it comes to fixing the problem, you need to remain calm. Exercises like the ones above can help with that, but you’ll need to practice them consistently.

Have you had any success with practices of nature? If so, have they helped other areas of your work life? At LinkNow Media, we’d love to hear about it. Let us know in the comments section below

How Small Businesses Should Respond to Negative Reviews

ferris wheel

When someone leaves a negative review, DON’T PANIC!

There are two reason not to panic:

  • There is probably something you can do to better the situation
  • Everyone is going to have a couple of bad reviews. You could have had a tough customer or it is possible that you made a mistake. You’re only human. However, that doesn’t mean you can sit back and do nothing.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Focus on what the person is concerned about. It may seem completely irrational but you have to remember that the customer needs to be taken seriously. Is it because of something that your company did or did not do? Is it because they did not read the fine print? Take notes.
  • Talk with your team to see what went wrong and why. Was there a misstep or are you dealing with a customer that expected more than you could deliver?
  • When you write a response, make it clear that you hear what they are saying and that you empathize with their situation.
  • Apologize and make sure it is sincere.
  • If you can make amends, then resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t try to defend yourself. It is great in a court of law but what customers want to see is how you resolve problems.
  • Write what you want to say first and then have someone else read it or give it a night and go back to it.

If You Made a Mistake

Own up to it in the response. What most people are looking for in a company is honesty. If you can show that you made an honest mistake and are willing to take steps to fix it, you will regain the trust of potential clients that read the review. This will also give you an opportunity for the client in question to give you a better review.

Make sure to keep a professional tone at all times. If you wish to go into a detailed explanation then try to do so with the client privately first. Explanations can take a lot of back and forth and since you don’t know how the customer will respond it is best to do it through email or in person.

If You Did Not Make a Mistake

It is sad to say but just as there are companies out there that cheat their customers, there are also people who try to blackmail companies into getting free services by using or threatening bad reviews.

In this case, you may just have to face the situation. They are someone who cannot be reasoned with and they just want something for nothing.  To prevent this in the future it may be a good idea to document the work you perform so you can provide a response with evidence at their accusation.  Though these proofs are best done privately through email.

Of course, be professional about it and attempt a response online as well. As long as you come off as being professional then some people who see the review will not automatically believe you are in the wrong.

In the worst-case scenario, you may have to give them something for free but that is up to your discretion.

Contact the company that the review is posted on. There may be able to remove the review if it is vilifying or defamatory.

Concentrate on Getting Positive Reviews

Make sure to ask your clients that appreciate your service to give a review on different platforms. After a job has been completed, perform call backs a while later to see that they are still satisfied. That is a great opportunity to ask for a positive review.

With enough effort, you can start to drown out the negative reviews and get yourself back on track.

There Is a Positive to This Negative

Consumers are becoming savvier with online review sites. If they see that accompany has only 5 and 4 star reviews they may become suspicious that all the comments are manufactured rather than genuine. Having a few bad ones balances out the situation and gives people the impression that you are professionals but also people.

Online Customer Review Tips for Small Business Owners

Paper ClipThere’s no denying that attracting new customers can involve a lot of effort. Unfortunately, as a business owner, it can be difficult to devote time to your digital marketing strategy. One way to bring in new business that doesn’t involve too much effort on your end is by letting your satisfied clients do the leg work. Online customer reviews are one of the most effective ways to push a person to follow through on a purchase. That means it’s well worth it to do what you can to make leaving online reviews a seamless process. After all, the more online reviews you obtain, the more likely you are to make sales. Here are 3 tips for getting the most out of your online customer reviews:

Ask for Reviews on Expensive Products

It’s a fair assumption to make that cost is a major factor holding people back. So, if you are going to encourage satisfied customers to leave online reviews, it pays to give an extra push on your more expensive products. Reviews from satisfied customers can illustrate why your product is worth every penny.

Send a Follow Up Email

Let’s face it – emails are easy to ignore. Half of them can be deleted, and the majority of them don’t demand your immediate attention. None-the-less, an email can be that extra nudge a person needs to write a review. The hard part is getting them to open that email, so it’s important that your email demands attention.

When it comes to sending out a follow up email, timing is key. You want to make sure they receive the email at the point where they have had enough time to reflect on their feelings about your product, but not past the point where they are no longer excited.

Have A Strong Call to Action

A call to action is exactly what it sounds like – it involves getting someone to perform a certain action. If that action is getting a customer to write a review you need, then you need to put yourself in their shoes. Why should someone take time out of their day to write a review? What’s in it for them? We’ve looked at the features that make a strong CTA in the past, and the same principles can be applied to getting someone to share their experience about your product or service. It’s important that you provide them with a clear and straight path to where they need to be. If writing a review involves multiple steps or filling out a form, they may be reluctant to follow through.

Make the Most Out of Your Google My Business Page

milkMilk or cream? T-shirt or sweater? Stay or leave? Romance or comedy? Every day, each one of us makes hundreds of decisions, both big and small. Sometimes, it can seem as though we decide in the blink of an eye. Other times, however, we weigh the pros and cons of each and flip back and forth on our decision for what feels like an eternity. Whether we are going with our intuition, or mulling over past experiences and considering the short- and long-term effects of our choice, there are a ton of factors that play into our decision-making process.  When it comes to making decisions on the internet, the process is no different.

Let’s say you’re looking for a home cleaning company in your home-town of Portland, Maine. If you don’t have any recommendations from friends or colleagues, you’re likely relying on the internet to find a residential cleaner near you. When you type “residential cleaning company in Portland” into Google, you will be shown which cleaning businesses are available to you in your area, along with some basic information, like their address, phone number, hours of operation, and rating. The higher the rating a company has, the more likely you are to head to their website.

Optimize Your Google My Business Page

Just as you search for services, other people are taking similar steps to find businesses. So, if you rely on getting visitors to get to your website from local search traffic, then reviews from Google My Business should be a priority. Here are few tips for a better optimized page:

Citations Management

When people are talking about citations, they are referring to any mentions of your business’s name, address, and phone number online. This information is listed on customer review sites, like Yelp and Angie’s List, and social media platforms, like Facebook. It’s important that this information is consistent across the board, or else Google will doubt the validity of your business. Any discrepancy, such as your address appearing as 705 Main Street one place and 705 Main on another, could hurt your ranking. If you don’t have a physical location, here’s advice from Google on the best way to handle it.

Category Selection

It important that you select the right category for your business-type. This might sound like a no-brainer, but for companies that offer more than one service this can prove to be difficult. If you’re unsure, read up on Google’s guidelines for representing your business.

Images

Never under estimate the power of visuals. Adding photos of your business to your page is the best way to show off your business’s human-side. Be sure to include photos of your staff in action and the interior of your business, if possible. You also have the option of providing people with a virtual tour of your business by enlisting a Google-improved photographer.

Ask for Reviews

Yelp uses a recommendation software specifically designed to flag comments that appear to be fraudulent. We’ve looked at this in the past, and mentioned how it seems to be more lenient with negative reviews, hiding many legitimate reviews from satisfied customers. This isn’t the case with Google My Business, so don’t be shy about encouraging a happy customer to rate your business and share their experience. Be sure to let them know how much you appreciate them taking the time to share their kind words by writing a response comment. Of course, not every comment is going to be a glowing review. It is important that you respond to harsh criticism too, whether that means offering an apology or clearing up a miscommunication.

Those are just a handle of ways you can better optimize your Google My Business Page. At LinkNow Media, we are sure to look into this topic again.

How to Spring Clean Your Business’s Yelp Reviews

springReviews are an increasingly important way that customers engage with a brand, product, or business. A good review can win over potential customers the same way that a negative review can do the opposite. A constant stream of positive reviews on your Yelp page suggests that your business is popular, successful, and well run. At LinkNow Media, we believe that in the spirit of spring, it is always a good idea to do some spring cleaning. This includes putting in order strategies to increase positive reviews on Yelp. The following are some easy ways to encourage new positive reviews.

Encourage New Reviews

The best way to encourage your clients to review your business is by providing great service and asking them about their experience upon completion. Speaking with your customers in person about their opinion of your service allows for an opportunity for you to remedy any disappointments or concerns before they make it to the internet. After speaking with your customer, gently encourage them to write a review if they are so inclined, and thank them graciously for their patronage. This will make your clients feel appreciated and as if their opinions are valued and taken into consideration.

Respond to Challenging Reviews

The best way to respond to challenging customer reviews is to firstly wait 24 hours before responding. This will give you sufficient time to approach the situation with intellect rather than emotion. The second tip is to let go of any defensive tendencies you may have to show your point of view. It’s not about your defense, it’s about the client’s perceived experience. Lastly, just go with it. Accept your client’s criticism with kindness, grace and dignity. Offer your sincere apologies and hope they will give you another shot. If you have lost them, at least you have demonstrated your ability to extend kindness and generosity to other potential clients who may have read this online interaction.

LinkNow Media always recommends that you choose which reviews to respond to wisely. Address reviews with specific complaints, or that seem genuine and not mean spirited. This will more likely be worth your while as opposed to engaging with an internet troll.

Share Positive Reviews!

If there is a particularly glowing review that made an impression on you, feel free to publicly thank your customer for being so generous with their words! Trust us, it won’t go unnoticed.

The Customer Is Always Right, Right? Advice for Small Businesses

teacupsLinkNow Media has written about ways of responding to negative reviews before. We’ve shown you how to handle negative reviews, and how to use positive reviews to boost your brand. Today, we’re going to take it one step further to help you understand the process and the value of analyzing your customer reviews. We’ve all heard the age old adage that “the customer is always right”, and through the careful consideration of customer feedback, you’ll see that this is true in more ways than one. Not only is it the go-to model for good customer service, it’s also the best way to approach customer reviews, negative or positive.

ABC: Always Be Changing

A stagnant business is a failing business. If you’re not consistently changing your business model to better serve your customers, your customers are heading to your competitors. This is where analysis of your reviews can be integral to success. Think of it this way, wouldn’t it be great to have a helpful coach in real time telling you what and how you could improve your business? If you approach feedback not as either congratulation or denigration, but as a roadmap to help you get where you want to go, then you’ve tapped into a very powerful resource. There are a few simple how-to’s online that can help you create a system to harness this new found resource. We recommend taking a look at this post on analyzing from CSM.

Learn From Mistakes

It’s Fine to Celebrate Success But it is More Important to Heed the Lessons of Failure.” This quote from Bill Gates is the perfect way to summarize why paying attention to customer reviews is important. Learning from your failures keeps your company moving forward and maximizing growth. That being said, it’s equally important to play to your strengths. If you notice throughout your analysis of customer reviews that you’re hearing the same things repeated in every positive review, work with that information to better market your services. You don’t want your slogan to be about speed if every bad review of your service cites long wait times, that kind of inconsistency can damage your credibility. On the other hand, if you notice that customers are responding positively to how simple it is to access your services, than focus on marketing your company as customer friendly. This doesn’t mean you get to stop implementing plans to improve on your weaknesses, but it does mean that sometimes it pays to keep on the sunny side.

These are all very simplified ideas regarding customer review analysis, but once you start critically engaging with your audience it will open up a lot of doors for your business. There are a lot of resources available to help you move forward with more advanced analytics of feedback. But today at LinkNow Media, we hope we’ve at least got you thinking, let us know in the comments below!

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