Reviews can be amazing and a great way to incorporate user feedback to your marketing strategy, online and offline. Yet reviews aren’t always amazing. They can get negative and behind a keyboard and a monitor, people can become downright nasty. And if left unchecked, reviews can color people’s perception of your brand.

You want to be diplomatic. After all, the Internet never forgets. Visitors who come afterwards can associate poor response with poor business practice. Negativity begets negativity. Seeing a business owner handle a negative review online can suggest that management is proud of their brand and willing to meet the visitor half-way to maintain their reputation.

Make potential clients see your business in a different light with these four simple steps.

  1. Apologize and sympathize: The first step towards solving a problem is accepting that there is one. It doesn’t matter who’s fault it is. Apologize and express sympathy. It can go a long way.
  2. Promote: Your restaurant is known for making the best pancakes in the neighborhood. But for some reason, they weren’t up to par when some person visited and they post about it. Reiterate that. ‘The pancakes are usually the bomb, sorry that they weren’t all that when you came by. Maybe you should visit us?’
  3. Move the conversation offline: Keep control of the conversation. Don’t open a can of worms. Offer a reviewer a chance to reach out via email, phone or some messenger app.
  4. Keep it simple: Avoid specifics and do not ask questions. Keep it offline or away for where people can see it.

One final piece of advice: Leave your business name, location and category out of this. You don’t want your negative reviews showing up in a Google search.

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