By Arielle Mullen

For any small business, online reviews can make a huge difference in public perception. Managing them can be tricky, but keeping the following tips in mind can lead to better feedback from customers, and a subsequent boost in business.

Know what’s being said. Consider setting up Google Alerts (free) so you’ll know when new reviews are posted about your business. This will allow you to keep informed about the general impression people are getting and giving.

Generate new reviews. Although annoying your customers with constant requests for reviews isn’t advised, it’s always a good idea (if your business structure allows for it), to send out a follow up survey after the completion of a job. Remind your client that you appreciate their business, and value their feedback. Include links to popular review sites to make it easy to submit a review.

List positive feedback on your site. Another good reason to always send follow up surveys after a job is completed is to ensure you’ll have new reviews to post on your site. If your website is structured to allow for showcasing positive reviews, make sure to swap them out for new ones regularly.

In case of negative reviews, respond appropriately. This is definitely the trickiest hurdle in dealing with online reviews. You can’t expect great feedback 100% of the time, and in the event of a negative review, make sure you handle it well. Make sure there’s one person in charge of speaking for the business in these situations. If a negative review appears, respond in a timely manner, acknowledge their bad experience, and offer a plan to resolve it. You can bet that people will be watching, so crafting a thoughtful, diplomatic response will go a long way in ensuring good results. People gravitate towards businesses with a human element, so be sure to represent positive qualities in your dealings with a negative review.

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