Peter Hoey

Videos, photos, and comments spread faster than wildfire on the Internet, with items going viral within minutes. Prospective clients who are researching your company are likely reading customer reviews on a variety of sites. How you respond to these comments and complaints can affect your leads. Here are some tips for responding to reviews.

1) Register your business on a variety of sites and directories that have reviews. Some sites will notify you when a review is posted, but check your listings regularly.

2) Include links for these sites on your website. This makes it easy for clients to post a comment on their favored site. The easier you make it for them, the more likely they are to post a review.

3) Research a negative review to make sure it’s legitimate. Was that person who wrote the review an actual client and did they have an interaction with you? Make the review site aware if it is not a customer you recognize and ask them to investigate.

4) Respond publicly and privately to reviewers.

5) Own the problem in both the public and private responses. Apologize for the issue.

6) Offer detailed options to resolve the customer’s specific issue. Some contracting company owners include their name, email, and phone number in the public response.

7) Be reasonable in your response. You’ve likely lost that customer, but draft your response as if you’re addressing prospective customers. They want to see how you respond to complaints. Use the review to give future customers a sense of your culture and business.

8) Don’t just respond to negative reviews — respond to positive reviews, too. This will encourage more good reviews and shows potential customers that you are paying attention.

—Nina Patel is a senior editor at REMODELING. Find her on Twitter at @SilverNina or @RemodelingMag.