Managing negative online reviews – tips for contractors

Contractor newsmagazine recently wrote an article on how engineers, architects, plumbers and other contractors can manage their online reputations. In it, author Matt Michel says, “never before has the voice of the customer been as powerful as today. [Because] the internet has replaced Yellow Pages for most consumers, a few dissatisfied customers can badly damage a company overnight.”

We couldn’t agree more. When a negative review pops up, we advise that contractor businesses repair, build or bury.

Repair: If your company gets a bad review on a site like Yelp, try to resolve it directly with the customer by thanking them for the input, apologizing for their experience and tell them someone will be in touch. Then follow through by directly calling them and asking what they’d like and ask them to update their review once the issue is resolved.

Build: By making it a practice to regularly following up with clients by email to thank them for their business, your company can help build an online profile of good reviews. This will make the occasional bad review look like an oddity. When following up by email, include a coupon and ask for a review if they are happy with the service, linking them to the site where the business would most need a good review.

Bury: In his article, Michel addresses bad-review scam websites. Yes, there are “review” websites that slam businesses and then tell you they will remove the review for a few hundred dollars. If you pay it, they’ll likely repost it a few weeks later with the same demands. In this situation, the best you can do is bury it – inundate the internet with so many positive stories and photos of and about you that when someone searches for your company they see what you want them to.

These strategies are all appropriate in different situations. The last one, burying, is best done in line with a public relations strategy that offers an online content push with a selection of strategies: in the news, on social media, in business-to-business publications and through awards and photo sharing sites. If done incorrectly, a business could look like it’s putting out useless content, is desperate or doesn’t know what it’s doing – all which would further hurt its reputation.

Engineers, architects and other contractor businesses live and die by their reputations. Does your company have a plan?