As we have pointed out before, online customer reviews can be great for storage facilities when utilized correctly. We know that having 5-star reviews across the board can look “spammy” to many consumers, but excessively negative reviews, both founded and unfounded, can have a negative effect on business. Having direct control over your reviews gives you a lot of power choosing what to include and exclude on your website, but there are still external rankings found both on sites like Google+ as well as tied to your Maps listing that are easily found by potential customers.

When you receive a negative review, the most important thing to remember is that no matter how justified you may be, an emotional and accusatory response never reflects well on your business; reviewers are seen as having nothing to gain and are thus perceived as honest, while owners/operators are viewed as profit-driven in their responses. If you suspect the review is fraudulent (perhaps a competitor posted it to make their services more attractive or a customer is trying to get out of paying a bill they owe you), or the reviewer makes personal attacks, it is important to go through the proper channels on the posted website and hopefully have the review removed.

In the event that someone makes a justified complaint against your service, try to address the problem in private; letting the customer know that you are listening and taking them seriously can go a long way towards solving any issues. And after you address the problem, encourage them to update the review to reflect that. A ‘wronged’ customer editing the original review to reflect management handling an abnormally negative experience can be more positive than a generic 5-star rating. If you solve the customer complaint, and the review doesn’t reflect that, many sites let you post a public response addressing the problem where you can show how you took care of the situation. Always be careful to be as respectful and courteous as possible and refrain from attacking the reviewer.

The best way to deal with negative reviews starts before they are even posted. People tend to write reviews when they are feeling a strong emotion, so unless moving their belongings into storage was the best experience of their month, chances are that the reviewer is angered by something – even if it was only a perceived slight and they are blowing it way out of proportion. With up to 72% of customers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, it is important to remind renters to leave a review if they had a good experience with you. It can be as simple as asking a customer to leave a review on your website or Google after you help them solve a problem or lease a unit, or a simple sign in your office; the majority of your satisfied customers just need a simple reminder that reviews will help business as much as telling their friends about you, and have no problem giving you a star-rating and typing up a few comments.

Great customer service is your first line of defense against negative reviews, but in this digital age even the smallest mistakes or most irrational complaints can earn ranting reviews. Encouraging positive reviews and properly handling negative ones is vital for business, especially considering the 5% increase in consumers regularly using online reviews to determine which local business to choose from 2010 to 2012– and the trend shows no signs of slowing.