Have you figured out how search engines are social?  Many search engines, like Google and Yahoo, allow people to provide company reviews.  So, if you search for your business in a local search engine, you may see a review of your business.  Give it a try.  You may not have any reviews right now, but just wait.  You will very soon.

How reviews are helpful

For the rest of this article, let’s try searching for “Hotel” and your zip code.  Read the reviews that your local hotels have online.  Many of the reviews come from the search engine, but many also come from other travel sites. When you look at these reviews, you will notice good and bad reviews.  You will also see those reviews that others found helpful.  If you find a review helpful, click “YES.”  That will make the reviews more reliable and helpful to the next person.   Reviews help you make better buying decisions.

reviews

What about bad reviews of my business

youDid you notice that there are some pretty bad reviews in there about hotels in your city?  It is a shame that many of these businesses don’t manage their reputation online.  When I am looking for a hotel in another city (or a plumber, carpenter, e-commerce review), I check the reviews.  That helps me make my decision.  I don’t expect every review to be positive, but I do expect to see reviews that show how the hotel could make my stay a little nicer.

Here is what Google says about reviews:

Ranking of reviews: Ranking is completely automated; we can’t manually change the order of individual reviews, even if you request it. The reviews themselves are not created by Google. If you feel that a particular review of your business is inaccurate, we recommend that you express your concerns to the webmaster of the site on which this review was posted. If you’re concerned about a review that was submitted, click the Flag as inappropriate link found under the review, and submit a report. If the review is in violation of our policies, we’ll remove it.

Bad reviews just happen.  You can’t make everyone happy.  But you can add your own comments and encourage those that are happy with your business to actively make positive comments about you online.  Very soon, no matter how small or large your community is, reviews will exist about your business.  Let’s be proactive – instead of just waiting. For example, if someone posted a negative comment about flat, uncomfortable pillows at the hotel you are considering, you would notice. You’d also notice if the next comment was from the hotel manager stating this: “We are pleased so many guests choose to stay at our hotel and wear out our pillows. We are excited to share that every room has new, fluffy pillows as of March 2009! Come rest with us.” Seize your opportunities.

One quick story to drive things home

A friend of mine is a blogger in Chicago.  He was recently at a classy restaurant in the theater district in downtown Chicago.  The restaurant was busy.  His reservation was for 8pm, but the hostess did not seat them until 915pm.  When he was seated, the waiter forgot about him.  Once he finally got the waiters attention, he quickly took the order and never returned.  Another waiter finally showed up to take his food order (again).  Forty-five minutes later the waiter returned with their food.  Guess what… it was cold, and he still did not get his drink.

The next morning, my friend blogged about his experience and also commented on Google Local about the restaurant.  He was surprised that many of the comments on Google were very positive.  One hour later, he received an email and a call from the owner of the restaurant apologizing for the poor service.  He made no excuses, but asked how he could make things better.  My friend ask for a free meal and gave them a second chance.  This turned a negative customer into an evangelist.  The restaurant owner was familiar with social media listening tools and took action, the second he saw negative comments online.

If you monitor your reviews, you can turn negative situations around.  How often to you really receive honest feedback in person?  Use the web to gather feedback and make your business even better.  As a business owner, I welcome all feedback. Got something to say, add a comment below.

ACTION ITEM ONE:  The first action item is to go to http://local.google.com and comment on a local business that you love!  This will do two things for you.  First, it will start to make the local searches more useful for others.  Second, it will make you feel good leaving a positive comment about a business you love!

ACTION ITEM TWO:  The second action item will take a little more time, but will be very beneficial.  Share this blog post with a client of yours and ask them to add a comment about your business in Google Local.  This will enhance your listing and make you stand out in the local crowd.  (By the way, the best way to get a recommendation is to give one.)

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