How much does a bad review cost your business? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Christine James, Community Manager at HissingKitty.com, on Quora:

I have the awesome privilege of speaking with business owners every day about their customer service issues. And each time I do so I am able to learn about a different type of product as well as a different type of customer. It's great.

If you are a business owner, there are many unique aspects of your business. But one thing is the same whether you are Comcast, AT&T, or a small brick and mortar store.

Bad reviews can cost your business real money.

Technology has brought the world together in a way that many of us never thought was even possible. In an instant a single person can start a trend or address the world through social media.

But when it comes to your customers online, you do not want to see them posting a bad review. However, the reality is that every business will have a customer complaint filed against them at one point or another. And if you do not address them immediately, they will begin to gain momentum in search engines and online review sites. Remember the movie Unstoppable about the runaway train? Yeah, it's pretty much like that.

There are many different types of tools out there that can help you manage reviews, but the most important thing is that you stop for a moment and consider this simple fact.

A bad review costs you time and money. And here's why:

Social media

We are in the age of the consumer, where a person can go on social media and absolutely wreck your company's reputation based on a single incident that wasn't handled properly. So, have a social media plan and stick to it.

Consider the fact that the average person on social media has more than 300 friends. So if you sell a product that costs a mere $10, that negative review just cost you $3,000 dollars in potential business. Because I promise you none of those friends on Facebook will ever buy from you again.

Search engines

Consumer and editorial reviews continue to gain influence in search engines like Google, and a good review is an easy way to get that bump over your competition. Likewise, a negative review will stay online forever.

Google has a very strict policy on what they will remove. So, consider the fact that a bad review might be seen once a day for 10 years. That's 3,650 potential customers who will be scared away by that complaint. Using the same $10 product, that's $36,500 in potential business lost from a single bad review that ranks highly in Google.

Third-party review sites

Bad reviews present an easy way to lose customers. Consumers keep getting smarter, and more each day are searching for reviews online before they make a purchasing decision. There are dozens of third-party sites that host customer service reviews, and you need to be aware of what is out there about your business.

Often, by being proactive you can work with third-party websites like GripeO to reduce or even eliminate the number of negative customer service reviews created about your business online.

So what's a bad review worth to you?

I don't think companies should panic with every single consumer complaint, but I definitely believe an organization that has a blanket policy of ignoring bad reviews is asking for trouble.

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Published on: Jul 14, 2016