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Believe it or not, the same premise applies to customer negative reviews as it does to positive reviews. How you respond to a negative review impacts not only the reviewer, but all the sets of eyes that come afterward. BrightLocal’s local consumer survey shows that 91% of consumers between the age of 18 to 34 are big believers of online reviews, trusting them as much as personal recommendations.Seeing a business handle a particularly challenging review online suggests that management is proud of their business, and willing to go the extra mile to maintain their reputation.

Make potential clients see the light with these four steps: apologize, promote, get offline, and keep it simple.

Negative Reviews – Four Steps to Make It Right

Step 1 – Apologize and sympathize.

The first step towards fixing a problem is acknowledging that one occurred. Regardless of what happened, a simple apology and sympathy for your customer’s experience goes a long way. Don’t try to justify what happened, don’t place any blame on the customer, or your employees, for that matter. Even if some fault does like with your customer or employee, it won’t look good for you if you make someone else look bad, true or not. Future customers want to get a positive vibe for your business. Your response should let the customer know that you understand how he or she feels, and that you are sorry for their negative experience with your business.

Step 2 – Promote.

So the famous crab cakes weren’t up to par the day this particular customer visited. If they’re what you are known for, why not reiterate that? Plant the seed in new customers’ minds on what menu items to try. “Our crab cakes are usually a hit, we’re sorry to hear that they weren’t up to par when you visited!” Encourage the customer to give you another chance and perhaps even offer them a coupon, discount, or free add-on with their next visit.

Step 3 – Move the conversation offline.

Don’t open a can of worms. Keep the lid on tight by offering the reviewer the chance to reach out via phone, email or both. Many people just want to be heard and acknowledged. One-on-one communication allows you to get more personal with your customer and have a private conversation.

Step 4 – Keep it simple.

Avoid specifics and don’t ask questions. Let the customer lead. You don’t want to inadvertently bring up other potential negative topics for the customer or others commenting on the exchange. Control those conversations much better served in a space away from the prying public.

One last pro tip: Leave your business name, location and category out of this. You don’t want your negative reviews showing up in search!

Not hard, right? To make answering your reviews even more efficient, you can use software to pull in your reviews from all over the web so you can respond quickly. And if you don’t have time, seek out our Digital Agency services to do it for you. Not only do we guarantee expertise, we guarantee it in a hurry.

Lastly, don’t take the negative review personally. In fact, look at it as a good thing. A negative review sprinkled in amongst many positive reviews gives your business more credibility because, let’s face it, no one is perfect. You appear more human to your customers, and that goes a long way in establishing a strong relationship and business success at the same time.