Online reviews are today’s “word of mouth”. In fact, a 2015 BrightLocal consumer study found that an overwhelming 92% of consumers read online reviews. As a business owner or manager you already know that customer reviews are important, but you may worry about opening your business up to negative feedback if you start asking customers for reviews. A bad review may feel like a catastrophe, but it can actually be a good thing for your business. Here’s why:

Consumers expect to see some bad reviews

You’ve probably seen stories in the news recently about companies being sued over fake reviews. A quick Google search turns up many articles and blog posts providing tips on spotting fake reviews. Today’s consumers are savvy and may be suspicious of a company that does not have any one or two-star reviews.

The good will outweigh the bad

Although consumers expect to see some bad reviews, more negative than positive reviews are obviously not a good thing. You don’t need to worry about this as long as you are proactively asking happy customers to review you. However, if you leave it to chance it is possible that the only people motivated enough to leave you a review will be the minority of your customers who are unhappy with your company. If you put a process in place to request reviews proactively (and ideally automatically), the number of positive reviews will outweigh the number of negative.

How you react is what really matters

You can’t fully control what is posted online about your business, but you have the power to control how you respond. When a customer leaves you a less-than-flattering review, they’ve actually presented you with an opportunity. This is your chance to not only rectify the situation for that particular customer but also to show potential customers (who will be reading your reviews) that you care by responding promptly, politely, and publicly. Consumers understand that no company is perfect and mistakes happen, what they really care about is that you will make things right.