Customers often rely on the opinions of others when deciding to make a purchase. Statistics have shown that over 88 percent of customers have been influenced by an online reviewing platform at the time they decided to purchase an item. That's why it's crucial for local businesses to gain positive reviews from sites such as Google, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Angie's List and Yelp. This is especially important when it comes to attracting new customers and gaining repeat customers. 

From a company’s point of view, a negative review can massively affect a business owner’s revenue and drive potential customers away. Furthermore, a business positioned on a review listing can be lowered down into obscurity. While no one wants their business to be labeled in a negative manner, it still happens at times. Here are some tips on how to deal with negative reviews in an effective and professional manner. 

Promptly respond.

Responding promptly to a negative review shows the customer that you genuinely care for their patronage and value their opinions. This may also allow a business owner to turn the customer's negative experience into something more positive and make them consider giving the business another chance. Although, before responding, take the time to view it from the customer's perspective. Consider what they have written and the cause behind such a negative response to your business. Remember to remain calm and collected, after all, an unprofessional response will only further hurt the image of your business.

Investigate.

While responding in a rapid manner is important, you should still take the time to consult with employees to investigate what may have possibly gone wrong. The purpose behind this should not lead to you trying to prove a review wrong, but to become informed of the situation as much as possible. This could cause you to discover that a staff member was not acting accordingly to company guidelines or even find a potential route to resolving the problem. Nevertheless, it'll buy more time to further think things through and reiterate to the employees how important it is to provide the highest quality of service a customer can possibly have.

Privately dealing with the issue. 

Depending on the situation at hand, instead of responding to the review by leaving a public statement, sometimes contacting the reviewer through private message may be a better solution.  Most review sites have a private messaging system available for such circumstances, but that won’t always be the case. If there isn’t, you can still leave a contact email address for them to continue the conversation away from public viewing. If a successful resolve has been reached, leave a brief comment in the public timeline.

When meeting a customer offline, be aware of how you communicate with the dissatisfied person. The last thing you want to do is come off as aggressive or defensive. If a customer is approached in a negative manner the situation could quickly become chaotic. Empathy can take you a long way towards reaching a better, mutual understanding with a customer that could make a large difference to the outcome of the situation.

Defamatory reviews requested to be removed.

A good chunk of customer rating and reviews sites will not allow you to remove reviews on your own. In case one of the reviews that is left on your page is defamatory or vilifying, a request can be made to admins of the site to take it down. Make sure that the review is actually defamatory in nature, though, admins won't appreciate being bothered for every little negative review you gain, especially if said reviews may be justified in some manner.

Making amends.

Words alone may not be enough to resolve the unfortunate negative experience a customer has undergone. If the solution is as simple as offering them a replacement or refund, then it's certainly cash well spent. As previously mentioned, review scores can have a tremendous effect on a business’s revenue, much more compared to the cost of making amends. Furthermore, business owners should research ways to better improve the quality of their customer service, even in situations where they may have acted in a reasonable fashion. In the interconnected age of the world-wide-web, if a service is not provided in a positive manner, then the business will suffer serious consequences. 

Encourage reviews from regular customers.

A regular customer is a satisfied customer that businesses will see on a consistent basis. This makes them perfect candidates to leave their honest reviews and show why your business is loved by these customers. To shrug off the effect of a negative review, encourage regular customers to leave reviews of their own. Although, don't attempt to influence their opinions by asking them to only post positive reviews. Most reviewing sites discourage this and could lead to customers feeling pressured. Pestering your customers to leave a review could backfire on you, and lead them to leave a negative review out of annoyance. 

A good way to get both regulars and new customers to leave reviews behind is by placing a sign in your place of business for review sites that promote the brand. Adding a note to invoices and receipts asking customers to leave a review is another great way to spur them. Web links available on your website to the review sites are also helpful. These are some of the few safer ways to encourage customers for responses. 

The bright side to a negative review. 

A negative review can actually become beneficial for business owners. If every review were only positive comments and high rating stars, potential customers could become highly suspicious, thinking that the reviews are all fake rather than left behind by genuine customers. It gives them the “too good to be true” mindset. As contradictory as that may sound, the fact is that negative reviews can develop a bridge of trust, rather than peter out. Not only that, but as previously mentioned, it allows the chance for your business to show that they do value the customer's opinion and support.

Making employees aware of negative reviews. 

Ensure employees become aware of any reviews the business has received, especially if the comment is aimed towards them, whether they be positive or negative. Informed employees can then make the necessary changes if need be. Not only could this help lessen any problems from repeating in the future, it develops a customer-centric mindset. 

Live, learn and move on.

On one hand, it's possible that a previously dissatisfied customer may go back and edit their negative review and credit your business in its response. On the other hand, public recognition may not be obtained at all. The only thing you can do is learn from the situation and move forward.

Take the time to understand what went wrong initially, carefully craft the response, and remember that if you're doing things correctly then negative reviews should be overwhelmed by positive reviews left for your business.

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