The reputation your business has acquired online is tied to responding to queries that customers or potential customers may have. The responses a business owner or manager make online can be used for several reasons to boost your reputation. Among those reasons, how someone responds to a query about the business can provide customer service as well as free advertising. It can make or break a potential customer’s view of your business, as each response is not just for a single customer to read, but every existing, future, or former customer. Look at them as public relations and social media.

There is a proper way to respond to every review, depending on its type. Whether it’s a positive review or one that is out to try to tear down your business’ good name, there is a response that is deemed appropriate for each one.

When reading a negative review, feeling nervous about your business’ reputation is only natural. Use the control you have as an owner to respond accordingly. Three possible solutions can stem from responding to a negative review. You can win back a customer who has become unhappy with your services, decipher the errors in your business’ quality control, or execute solutions to problematic issues that customers clearly state in the review.

Several studies have shown the average consumer is more willing to trust a company that has a rating of four or four and a half stars, as opposed to one with a perfect five. The general public is realistic and doesn’t expect complete perfection. It is common for even great companies have bad days. However, you must ensure that you do not give poor owner responses through blame-shifting and anger. Responses like these have the potential to bring more damage than one, single negative review. Always remember that while your customers may not write queries or reviews in a professional manager, you must be sure to respond in such.

If you respond to a negative review, there are mainly one of two ways you can find yourself on the winning side. There is an immediate win, where your response impresses the customer to the point where they change their outlook on your company into one that is much more positive than it was before the review was written. The other way is gaining a long-term win. When you thank customers for the positive reviews and apologize for the negative ones, you are letting all customers know subtly that in return for their effort for even the smallest, one-word reviews, they can expect a response.

Reviews significantly impact your rankings and traffic, so your customers will want to know that their reviews are valued. Make time to respond to reviews as often as you can. For larger businesses, someone can be staffed to answer the reviews on the company’s behalf. Small local companies may have a slightly more difficult time managing responding to each review.

Keep tabs on how often you typically receive reviews. Knowing this will allow you to monitor and manage your time to respond better. For small local businesses, you typically won’t be receiving 30-100 reviews a week, so you will be able to more likely to make responding a small weekly task.

It is imperative for business owners and managers to know that reviews are pivotal to the marketing strategy to contribute and monitor the reputation their business has, either locally, online, or otherwise.