smile-upside-downNobody likes to get a bad review.  If you’re in business, though, a bad review online does more than just hurt your feelings.  It can hurt your business.  Half of U.S. consumer routinely check online reviews before making a purchase decision, according to a Pew Research study.

You’ve gotten that bad review.  What do you do next?

First, take a deep breath.  Don’t strike back while you’re angry.  Consider the source and consider what they are saying.  Is there a chance they’re right?  Is there a chance you’ve made a mistake?  Don’t take too long, however.  The longer a comment lays there, the more power it gets.  When complaints go unanswered, potential customers may see it and think you don’t care enough to respond.

Follow these three steps to try to make things right.  Remember, you’re not just trying to make one of your current customers happy, you’re trying to show people reading the reviews – your potential customers – the way you handle problems.  Doing it right may inspire their trust.

Address the comment directly

Apologize for their poor experience and let them know you will try to make it right.  Ask if it’s OK to contact them offline.  The last thing you want is a troll who relishes in an argument online – in a public venue at your expense!

You might be surprised how often talking to someone of the phone and listening to their concerns can be resolved positively.  When people aren’t anonymous – as they tend to be online – they are more reasonable.  They’re often willing to become a loyal customer.

You want to take it offline first to weed out those trolls and anybody else that will purposely post a negative comment just to try to get something for free.

Report the findings

Answer the negative review again and let people know you’ve worked with the person and resolved the problem.  Sometimes just apologizing and admitting there is a problem will take the sting out.  15% of online shoppers surveyed report they are MORE likely to do business with a company which responded to a negative review and dealt with it successfully, according to a study done by the Trust Economy Report.

If you’re wrong, admit it.  Fix the problem and let everyone know.

Ask them to update the review

If they are willing to do it, and let everybody seeing it know that you’ve done the right thing, it can be powerful.  Again, it builds trust that just in case something goes wrong, you’ll make it right.

Above all, be honest, sincere, and transparent.  You can’t make everybody happy.  However, making the effort will go a long way to mitigating those negative reviews.