When you receive a negative review online, it can make your heart sink. The natural reaction is to take it personally. After all, you have put so much time, effort, and money into building your business.

However, rather than getting angry or upset, you need to focus on how you are going to rectify the situation. This is especially the case when you consider that 86 percent of customers are hesitant to use a company with negative reviews.

So, let’s take a look at what to do if you receive a bad review about your business:

You should always reply to negative reviews

When you receive a bad review, it can be tempting to try and forget about it. That’s not a good move. Instead, you need to face it head-on and respond.

There are three main reasons why replying to a negative review makes sense:

1. Your customers expect you to respond

This reason alone should convince you to reply! A massive 53 percent of all customers expect businesses to respond to bad feedback within one week.

So, not only do you need to respond, but you need to do so quickly. In fact, one in three don’t expect to wait any longer than three days.

If you do not reply, the unsatisfied customer and everyone else who sees the comment will assume that you don’t really care about your customers or what they think.

This is not the sort of impression you want to give off, is it?

2. You may be able to change the person’s perception of your business

One study has revealed that 70 percent of customers changed their opinion about a company once they had responded to their feedback.

Responding in the right way shows customers that you want to resolve their problems and you value them as a customer.

This could turn an unhappy customer into a loyal, life-long fan of your business!

3. Display your exceptional level of customer service

Responding to a negative review is an easy yet highly effective way of showing your high levels of customer service.

Whether the review is good or bad, responding quickly tells clients that you care and that you’re engaged and active.

Remember, you’re not only responding to impress the disgruntled client but everyone else who reads the exchange.

Make sure you acknowledge the complaint the client has made

When crafting a response, you need to acknowledge how the client is feeling. Yes, you may be feeling annoyed or disappointed. You may not agree with the customer. However, you need to show that you are willing to understand their perspective.

Doing this will set the right tone for a productive and positive conversation with an unhappy client while also displaying that your business has strong ethics.

Starting off with an empathetic apology is always a good move. Your client will feel like you have truly read and taken in their comments and that you care about their dissatisfaction.

Apologize to your client and empathize with them

After you have acknowledged your client’s grievance, apologizing is the next step. Even if you do not agree with the customer’s remarks, it is vital to take the high road.

Try something along the following lines:

“We sincerely apologize that the service we provided was not to the level you expected.”

You may want to add a couple of lines about the high standards you hold your company to and how much you value your client. Tell them that their satisfaction means a lot to you and you will do everything in your power to make sure a situation like this does not happen again.

Take responsibility – do not get defensive!

Now is not the time to start pulling out classic excuses. Getting defensive never helped anyone in situations like this. Even if you feel that the poor experience was not your fault, having a customer-centric approach is critical. What this means is that you need to embark on the path of the moral high ground.

For example, if a customer feels that the experience in your restaurant was poor and they have posted a negative comment about your brand on social media, don’t tell them that they are wrong to feel this way, even if you were understaffed due to Covid-19 or you were facing some other issue.

Instead, tell the customer that you are disappointed they have not had a good experience. Inform them that you are going to make sure that it never happens again by investigating the issue and taking the required action.

Determine whether or not an explanation would be appropriate

There are situations whereby providing an explanation can be helpful. However, in other cases, it can sound like you are making excuses. The nature of the complaint needs to be considered carefully when determining what approach to take.

If miscommunication has caused the issue, then this is something you may want to explain to the customer so that they can understand why the mistake happened.

Remember, you are providing an explanation here. This is not the same as providing justification. You can explain what happened, but do not attempt to justify it. If you do, you start heading down the road of making excuses, and as mentioned several times, this is something we want to avoid.

Rectify the situation and turn an unhappy customer into a loyal one

Finally, you should always look to rectify the situation with the customer. If the issue can be fixed, you should fix it. In some cases, this means offering a full or partial refund.

However, there are other ways you can go about this; for example, you could offer a free service or a sizable discount.

Not only will this show your willingness to improve the situation for the customer, but it gives you a second chance to wow them again and make back the business you almost lost.