Four quick tips to keep your shop’s online reviews in check

March 6, 2018
One person’s opinion, warranted or not, can adversely affect your new customer acquisition and sometimes even loyal customer retention. However, there is a method to managing these reviews to help lessen and even prevent harm to your business’s growth.

We live in a tech-savvy world where online reviews can be just as powerful, and possibly even more influential, than its traditional word-of-mouth counterpart. Within the span of a few keystrokes or swipes across a handheld screen, your shop’s digital footprint is created. This can make or break your small business.

While glowing reviews are obviously the gateway to a positive online presence and good for driving a steady stream of customers to your door, negative reviews can potentially cause damage. One person’s opinion, warranted or not, can adversely affect your new customer acquisition and sometimes even loyal customer retention.

However, there is a method to managing these reviews to help lessen and even prevent harm to your business’s growth.

1. Stay one step ahead

Many shop owners assume that because they aren’t listed on a review site, they don’t need to worry about it. But the truth is, on many of these social platforms, any user can add a listing — which means that customers can in fact leave reviews. It’s extremely important for you to stay on top of your business listings and, if you haven’t already, claim your listing. It’s a necessary step so you can manage any review that is left for your shop.

It’s also a good idea to have a marketing plan in place, even if it’s just a basic one that includes an email schedule and social media calendar. Add an action item in this plan to check your reviews regularly. This way, if any new reviews are added to your business’s page, you will be ahead of the game. You want to be aware of any positive reviews as well as any negative reviews. While negative reviews will need to be handled carefully, positive reviews make great social media posts and quotes for your website.

There are also tools you can use that will alert you of your shop’s online presence like Google Alerts or Brand24. These alerts are triggered by keywords so if you have a common word or phrase in your shop’s name, you may receive some alerts that are unrelated to your business. At Management Success, many of our clients are often featured as community ambassadors or recognized for their involvement in charitable events. If this is the case in your shop, these alerts would notify you that your shop was mentioned in a local article. This can be a great marketing resource. 

2. Act quickly

Once you are alerted to a negative review, act fast. Especially if it’s a problem that has occurred within your shop, you will want to address it immediately. The more time that passes, the more detrimental it can be to your business and the harder it is to convince the reviewer to remove it.

I know that it is sometimes easier said than done because you take pride in the services that you provide, but you should try to not take it personally. Many times, the reviewer is stating an opinion and not a fact, so the negative review may not seem fair to you. Remove the emotional element and address the issue privately.

3. Reach out to the reviewer

If a negative review is left on your business’s page, you definitely do not want to ignore it. But you also do not want to respond publicly, if at all possible. This often creates a public exchange between you and the reviewer, which can actually make your situation worse.

Many sites will allow you to send the reviewer a message. Use this is an opportunity to apologize to the customer and explain how you plan to resolve the situation. Keep your reply short and to the point. Empathize with how they are feeling, address their concerns and let them know you care enough to take action. Sometimes, it may even be necessary to offer compensation for any inconvenience caused. Don’t become defensive or try too hard to over explain. If handled correctly and calmly, the reviewer will often remove it from the site.

If the reviewer does not remove the negative review, you may need to respond publicly. Briefly apologize and express your willingness to take action. If the reviewer continues to respond, tell them you would like to speak with them privately.

4. Keep providing great service

While it isn’t always possible to “bury” unfavorable reviews, you can outshine the negative with more positive. Your shop is known for outstanding service and quality repairs. Do not let one unhappy customer rain on your parade. Let people know where they can review you by posting a sign on your service desk. You can make a game of it and offer a discount or raffle entries to those who share their satisfaction.

Your digital footprint is a difficult path to control. There is so much information that is readily available, literally in the click of a second. While the online universe can be a wonderful resource when used respectfully, it’s also easily abused. Unfortunately, information can be fabricated and falsified. Review sites do their best to eliminate spam and false reviews, but they cannot catch everything.

Keep an eye on your business’s online reputation and stay proactive in protecting it. Everything begins and ends with great service. If you continue to do the best job that you possibly can and your put your customer’s best interests in mind, that’s the first step to quality control. Every person and every shop will make a mistake at some point. Use this experience as an opportunity to improve. Responding to reviews can be a great way to learn from and build goodwill with your customers.

About the Author

Roxanne Doche

Roxanne Doche is the Marketing Director for Management Success, a consulting and training company for independent repair shop owners. Additionally, Roxanne is an active member of various associations and networking groups, including Women in Auto Care and The Women’s Industry Network.

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