Few things can be more disheartening to a small business owner than seeing a negative review show up on Google, Facebook or any other online review aggregators. As painful as this is for a small biz owner/operators… with the right response, negative reviews can result in positive experiences.

1. Read the Review Twice

A harsh review can cause powerfully negative responses in business owners: disappointment, anger and frustration can all rear their ugly heads. It’s important to not let those emotions lead your response to the review. Read it once, then – assuming the review doesn’t require immediate action on your part – take time to let your emotions settle. Once you’ve moved past that initial wave, read it again from a more prepared, detached perspective.

2. Work to Understand

Try to understand the complaint from the consumer’s perspective. Though you may know why something happened, the customer may be unaware. You may have spent years perfecting a product or system that the customer found to be lacking. Criticism can be a strong tool, though.

Use the review to understand how your product or business might need adjustments or improvements. Ask yourself what the ideal product or interaction would look like to this customer. Would following their desire actually improve your product or process? Being able to objectively assess a customer’s complaint can be an effective way of strengthening your business and receive fewer negative reviews in the future.

3. Don’t Respond Negatively

Although you can gain important feedback from customers, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes a customer is simply being unreasonable, responding to something out of your control or otherwise just being a jerk. Even then, it’s important to keep your cool and respond with future customers in mind, as you put a positive spin on a negative comment.

4. Do Respond Quickly

Negative reviews without a response from the business can do a lot of damage in a limited time. If it looks like a customer is unhappy and you’re taking too long to respond, it may appear that you are scrambling or unsure how to handle hard situations. Try to publicly respond within one day.

5. Apologize, Explain, Offer, Ask

Follow the pattern of apologizing, explaining, offering and asking in your response. Apologize to the customer for the negative experience. Explain any relevant points that might help them understand why something happened. Offer to do something: fix the problem, replace something, give a discount for a future purchase. Ask them what they would like the outcome of this interaction to be.

Negative comments can be upsetting, but with the right response, they can also help shape your online presence for the better. For more ways to knock it out of the park with your online business profiles, check out Sprout Media Lab’s array of offerings.

For a Free Consultation on how to best handle Negative Reviews or anything related to Digital Marketing, call Sprout at (800) 617-6975… we’re happy to help!