Trip Advisor, Yelp, Google+ Local, Urbanspoon, Twitter, Facebook…

There are hundreds of review sites where grumpy customers can leave bad reviews about your business, justified or not . As a business owner your livelihood rests upon getting paying customers through the door of your business and reputation plays a large part in that.

Unfortunately, once a bad review has been posted to one of these sites there is very little you can do to have it removed. The only sure way to hide a bad review is by turning it into an opportunity for real, human customer service that is exceptional.

The way you respond to bad reviews online has the ability to change the way people view you and your business.

Fire off a witty dismissal and you’ll find customers quickly dismiss you. However, if you respond with warmth, kindness and humility, while trying to resolve the reviewers issue, you may just earn yourself favour from the community.

What not to do

Argue with the reviewer

As I mentioned earlier, the key to hiding negative reviews online is by responding with kindness and humility. If you get into an argument with the reviewer then it’ll make you look like a jerk and support their negative review. Even if the problem is on their end you should respond as professionally as you can. Certainly never have a brand meltdown on Facebook like this

Do nothing

Ignoring negative reviews and hoping they will go away is a poor strategy. You will get a few people who enjoy to leave negative reviews wherever they go. However, if you don’t respond negative feedback then it sends the message that you don’t care what your customers think. However there are times when it’s wise to not respond to a review.

What to do

Wait 24 hours after reading

It’s not wise to publish a response to any comments as soon as you’ve read them. Though feel free to write out a response detailing just how you feel. Then put it away for 24 hours, reread the customers comment and reread your response.

Is it warm and kind with a dash of humility? Is your response productive or will it cause more tension?

Waiting at least 24 hours will give you time to process the information and to formulate a better response. Also it gives you time to do the next point.

Talk to your team

Ask the other members of your team if they had served or seen the customer that has complained. This question should be about finding information and not looking to assign blame, otherwise your staff maybe reluctant to admit they know what happened.

Once you’ve discovered who knows, find out what they know about the particular event. This can prove to be a valuable insight into why the customer feels the way they do about your business and service.

With an informed idea of the events that happened you’ll be in a better position to respond to the customer.

How to monitor your brand online

The easiest way is to set up a Google Alert for your business name. Then whenever someone posts about your business online Google will email you with an alert. Added to that you can use your social media pages as a way to build favour and good will with customers and the community. Show that you’re a real human and not just a big business only interested in taking their money.

You can hide bad reviews online.

If you respond to negative reviews with tact, honesty and humility then you can turn the negative into a positive point for your business. That truly is the way to hide bad reviews online.

Further Reading

The Funniest Yelp response I’ve ever seen. It made me giggle.

A Deli owner found themselves at the brunt of a Yelp attack. So they took it offline and had a laugh.

[featured image flickr creative commons]