Our social media culture has made everyone an arbiter of quality and taste. We ask everyone to rate our services and products. We tend to trust ratings and reviews from our contemporaries more than we trust the ratings and reviews of experts. And because everyone has something to say about just about anything or anyone, sometimes we and the businesses we own/run get “bad” reviews and ratings.

So, what do we do when we get “bad” reviews/ratings and how do we manage them?

Here are some tips to manage bad reviews from Business.QLD:

First of all, you need to know when and where these bad reviews appear on sites other than your own website. Yelp and Product Review can send you notifications each and every time you get a review on their sites as long as you “join” those sites. You can also check out Google Alerts for any mention of your business in blogs, web pages, videos and discussions. Twitter Search will let you search its own platform for any reviews/ratings. And you can always pay a social media consultant to do what’s called “reputation monitoring.”

Know that sites like Yelp, Zomato, Google Places, etc. use publicly available data to generate a business page for you whether or not you’ve asked them to do so. The results of those business pages can be sometimes good and sometimes bad since someone other than you is creating that business page. You can claim that page as your own if you like what the site has done. Better yet, you can create you own business page on those sites. To claim or create your own business site, visit the site and look for the button/link that says something like “For Business” and click it.

Choose someone in your business to handle all reviews, good and bad. Choose a person who has a positive customer service attitude, a friendly and congenial writing style, a person who has the authority to resolve complaints and someone who has the judgment to refer the most complex complaints to a more senior staffer.

Always, always, always respond to both good and bad reviews/ratings. A positive reviewer will appreciate being recognized and will likely become more loyal to you/the business. A negative reviewer will also appreciate being recognized and being taken seriously. Every response on your end needs to be courteous and polite.

For negative reviews, Business QLD suggests that the responder introduces him/herself, thanks the reviewer, apologies for any problems and tells the reviewer that the responder is looking into the problem and will communicate any possible solutions once the responder has researched different options. Demonstrate that you are interested in hearing/knowing what customers have to say about your services/products.

Make sure not to post fake reviews. Make sure not to send out solicitous emails for positive reviews to your entire database. Make sure to not offer incentives for positive reviews. All these suspect and/or overtly solicited reviews can be seen as fake and/or unethical.

When/if encouraging positive reviews from specific customers, make sure to display the logos of the review site on your own website for credibility. Have comment cards in your office that include web addresses and logos of your review sites. Ask a few of your most satisfied customers for a review if and only if they are comfortable doing so.

Lastly, know that most often customers write reviews when they are dissatisfied. Give your satisfied customers reasons to write good reviews by offering them new services/products and/or new information. Make your satisfied customers “insiders” and treat them like trusted friends/colleagues.