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How to Get Over Your Fear of Online Reviews

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
How to Get Over Your Fear of Online Reviews

Does monitoring online ratings and reviews make you want to crawl into a hole and ignore the whole thing?

You’re not alone. Unhappy customers can be brutal, and a single negative review can have a huge negative impact on a business (not to mention one’s self-esteem). However, customer feedback is crucial in more ways than one; it’s your best window into what you’re doing well and where you need to improve — it’s also a major way search engines like Google track your business activity, credibility, and success.

So, no matter how you feel about reviews, your business benefits from receiving more of them (ideally, more positive ones). This guide explains how you can gain more reviews, feel better about staying on top of your online reviews, and respond to them the right way.

Three Reasons for Fearing Feedback

Your fear of online reviews is entirely justified. Here are three reasons why.

People Are Rude Online

Some people’s online behavior can be extremely anti-social.

We all run across extreme behavior on the internet every day. Some of it is because people are experiencing personal issues and take it out online (and feel free to do so where they wouldn’t otherwise). Other nasty behavior results from individuals being paid by others to harass small businesses and harm their reputations. In other cases, automated spam is to blame.

As a small business owner, it’s always important to remember that rude review language and comments aren’t about you. They’re about the reviewer. While you should pay attention to any feedback you receive, not every review is worthwhile or legitimate (some reviews may even be in violation of the platform’s review policies). What’s critical is that you build as many good relationships with consumers as possible, even during negative interactions.

Review Platforms Limit Business Owner Control

The business model of review platforms is to earn money from representing and promoting opinions about businesses without being authorized to do so by their owners. A key issue is that business owners have little or no recourse when review content isn’t true.

The goal of major review platforms is to maximize profits. Spending time mediating disputes between business owners and customers limits this. The platforms rarely offer live support when things go wrong.

While you may feel you have no control over these situations, you actually do. In most cases, you can politely respond to negative or untrue reviews and set the record straight. And, as mentioned earlier, if a review is irrelevant, flat-out wrong, or spammy, you can report it to the platform and try to get it removed.

Negative Comments Put Your Livelihood at Risk

Operating your business pays for your family’s and employees’ housing, food, medical care, and more. Any negative reviews can seriously cut into your income. That’s a critical reason for review anxiety.

Here’s another way to think about it: You regularly resolve in-person complaints successfully. The key to effectively resolving online complaints is to handle them as you would offline. Make it a point to ask the unhappy customer to reach back out to you so you can make things right. This returns the power to you, allowing you to resolve the issue while demonstrating your commitment to customer service to prospective customers.

Three Steps to Gain Control Over Your Online Reputation

Here are three actions you can take to get a handle on your online reputation.

1. Develop a Complaint-Friendly Business Plan

Embrace complaints by making them a part of how you run your operation.

Train every team member so they know how to appropriately resolve and escalate complaints. Hang signs in prominent places asking customers to request in-person help rather than complaining online. Provide after-hours support options like chat, text messaging, or website forms so people have ways to resolve issues when you’re closed. Prepare packages of goods or services that your staff is authorized to offer in order to make things right.

Planning on how to resolve customer complaints when they occur can help prevent negative online reviews. Also, pay attention if several people make the same complaint, as this probably points to an organizational issue that should be resolved immediately.

2. Schedule “Review Reviews”

If ignoring reviews has caused them to pile up, adding to your stress, make it a habit to schedule review reading. How often you do this depends on how frequently you receive new reviews. Balance this with the knowledge that most reviewers expect a response within two days. Regularly scheduling this activity will prevent you from facing a load of reviews all at once, providing the bandwidth required to respond to negative ones constructively.

3. Request Positive Ratings and Reviews

Find ways to encourage a steady stream of fresh, good reviews. The more positive reviews you earn, the less impact a few negative reviews will have. Companies that have a small number of reviews place a bigger spotlight on the negative ones. Getting more and more reviews is also an SEO best practice. Note, however, that employing dishonest strategies for farming positive reviews will always backfire. Google and other review platforms have strict policies against buying fake reviews or engaging in other activities that misrepresent your business’ rating.

Fear of Online Reviews: The Final Word

If there’s one takeaway from this piece, it’s that no business can ignore online reviews. That’s because reviews are critical to your reputation, online presence, and overall success. However, owners experiencing review stress have options for confidently addressing negative comments. Leverage the tips in this guide to gain control over your business reviews once and for all.

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