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  • Writer's pictureChris Benjamin

Shop Yourself

Updated: Apr 10

Ladies and Gentlemen, have you ever taken a gander at your small business's online presence and thought to yourself, "What in tarnation is this mess?"

Well, it's time to grab brush, let's make sure your online reputation is as shining and polished as a newly minted penny. And that, my friends, starts with shopping your own small business online and responding to those dang reviews!

Shopping Yourself Online

Think of shopping your own small business online as a virtual test drive. You want to make sure everything runs smoothly, the navigation is as easy as pie, the stereo isn't just AM talk radio, and the insurance information is as up-to-date as a newborn babies'. If you don't do it, you might as well be driving a car with three wheels and no engine! "We ain't getting nowheres, eh?"

Kick the tires, buck-o! Submit all the forms. Call your offices. Chat with your website and social media platforms! Bug your people about edge cases and how to handle them, see what parts spin and which ones need some oil.

Responding to Reviews

Now, let's talk about those reviews. Some folks let the reviews pile up, they just get 'em. Maybe it's good networking or maybe they paid a small country to fawn over them, who cares? I call these kinds of business with piles of reviews and no responses zombie businesses, they're wanderin' around, you can see something makes them tick but they ain't talking to nobody, it's all one-sided!

It's important that your business receives reviews, this is so people can make an informed decision when they're doing their own buying research. What really brings that buying decision home is your response to reviews you may already have. Whether the unwashed masses deserve it or not, dammit, you do! Respond to folks, even if they're rambling about the last sammich Daryl expertly crafted for them at the deli, they left that message for your business and everyone can see how it was handled, or not.

Reviews can be as positive as a Friday morning unicorn riding a raspberry jelly filled rainbow to Reno or as putrid as a skunk's polluted pickle picnic. Either way, it's important to respond to your reviews like a boss. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

For positive reviews: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Well look at you! Shake hands, kiss babies, smile and wave at the cameras! You've done a great job to have earned such high praise from your clients. Here are some tips for responding to these shining examples:

  • Thank the customer for their kind words.

  • Show appreciation for their business.

  • Offer a special discount or promotion for their next visit.

  • Share the review on your social media pages to spread the love.

For negative Reviews: ⭐️ 🤬

It's a good thing to be passionate about your business, after all you've spent time, money, and energy developing your process and maybe even hiring incredibly talented people to make your business worthwhile but for heaven's sake keep the drama offline! You can completely avoid dog-piling from customers who've had a rough experience with you. Bad reviews can be the worst situation to try to worm your way out of, especially if you've been caught in the wrong. My advice: don't wrestle with pigs in the mud (they like it) and don't get litigious... let the sun shine on bad reviews, respond to Negative Nancys professionally and appropriately, sometimes this can mean sitting back and watching a fire burn. Some people simply are the way that they are and you will not please them. Here are a few best practices for responding to Debbie Downers:

  • Apologize for the negative experience.

  • Offer a solution to make things right.

  • Ask the customer to contact you directly to resolve the issue.

  • Take the feedback as an opportunity to improve your business.

Asking for Reviews

Bottom line up front: It's OK to ask for an honest review of your services however, it is NOT OK to pay for super awesome five-star reviews. Petition recent clients for reviews if it's been a minute since you've reached out to someone for one. There's nothing wrong with dusting off the old social media reviews you've already got, it shows shoppers that you are responsive, maybe not so punctual but you responded.

Fishing in the Dark

Listen, I know some of you spent a lot of time on platforms gathering rave reviews from... humans probably, but be aware that there are local platforms that aren't worth any of your time or money. I won't mention names here but you are free to schedule a call to discuss them with me but my point is this; there are platforms that will get you some solid reviews and take them away from you and hold them hostage or even worse, you may never see them again. Don't pay for that crap, it's an abusive and cruel tactic and we're better than these crappy platforms. You don't control discourse online, as much as you might like to think you own your pages, the platforms own them and these platforms are want to change their Terms of Service (TOS) as frequently as you change coffee filters in the office. Gather reviews that the public will see in places that they actually visit on the internet, I can help you find the streams where you will actually catch fish.

Alrighty, I'm done yakking.

In conclusion, shopping your own small business online and responding to reviews is like brushing your teeth. It's not the most exciting thing in the world, but it sure does keep your online reputation looking and feeling fresh. So, go forth and make your online presence shine like the five star business you are! BE RESPONSIVE and share the love, this is the reality of modern commerce, you need to generate and let other businesses know how they're performing. Thanks for sticking around to read my blog, if you have any questions for me send 'em my way through Chat on my site or schedule a meeting with me to discuss during a virtual conference. I plan to share more information with my take on best practices for Online Reputation Management (ORM) and being a hyper local business in future updates, so if you enjoyed my blog, consider signing up for email updates or following me on social media, my links are in the footer.

Here's some music I have been listening to lately, I hope you enjoy it:

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