The online marketing corner

Written on: August 12, 2012 by Ben Gutkin

Mouse pointerQ: I think we run an excellent business, but a few disgruntled customers have posted bad reviews about us. Is there anything I can do about that?
A: No, but that’s the good news! As a business owner, you know that it is impossible to satisfy all of the people all of the time. You also know that people are generally louder when they have something negative to say rather than when they are generally satisfied.

So what do you do about those inevitable bad reviews? Here are some steps to follow:
1. Have a strategy: Never respond to a review unless you can own the issue. The main objective in responding to a negative review is not to make amends with the customer who wrote it, but to assure future customers that the problem was dealt with and that it would never happen to them.
2. Use the right tools: Some websites (such as Google+ and Yahoo Local) will allow you to remove bad reviews if they meet certain criteria, but virtually all will allow you to respond. In most cases, it is better to respond than to remove. It helps you to look credible (nobody is perfect) and caring about each and every customer.
3. Make it personal: Nobody is interested in the business’s side of the story. But a personal response from the owner of the company can be really powerful.
4. Make it right: When crafting your response, follow these steps:
a. Apologize.
b. Don’t make excuses.
c. Don’t blame the customer.
d. Assure the customer that’s not how you run your business.
e. Make a personal offer to make it right, i.e., “Please call me directly so I can resolve this for you.”
5. Overwhelm the bad reviews with good ones! Three negative reviews out of 30 are far better than three negative reviews period.
If you treat negative reviews as an opportunity to tell your story, show you care, and humanize your company, that’s making lemonade.
Have an online marketing question that’s been tripping you up? Send me your questions at
The Online Marketing Corner is a monthly column written by Ben Gutkin, vice president
of marketing services for Warm Thoughts Communications. In each issue, Ben will share
insights, tips, strategies and helpful hints for energy companies to improve their online
marketing campaigns. If you have a specific question that you’d like Ben to answer, email him at