Today Google launched a new feature in Google Places (formerly Local Business Center) that enables verified business owners with local business listings to publicly respond to customer's online reviews. Two thumps up! This is definitely a nice feature because it encourages business owners to engage in a two-way conversation with customers. By responding to online feedback, it shows your customers that you care about their opinion and are willing to go the extra mile to maintain a positive online reputation. Feedback, whether positive or negative, is always an opportunity to win new business!
When you monitor online reviews it is important to remember that you should respond to both negative and positive feedback in a kind, professional manner. Even if someone is harshly bashing your business, be nice! You're never going to win an argument with a frustrated customer. As the old saying goes - the customer is always right (even when they're not!) so try not to burn any bridges. Even customers who initially had a negative experience might come back or refer friends. Don't overlook the positive reviews either! It's always much cheaper and easier to win repeat business from a satisfied customer than it is to win business from a new client. You should reward your customers who leave a positive review with an incentive to return such as a discount on their next visit. Then positive reviews can engender more positive reviews because 1) everyone wants to get their discount especially in this economy and 2) people like relating to one another via common interests.