Reviews have always played an important role for businesses, and this has been exacerbated with the global reach of the internet. It used to be that a bad review could impact a business only as far as the circulation of the newspaper where the review was published, or only so far as the friend circle of the naysayer. Today, however, the internet makes it so that potential customers all over the world can see a bad review, and this can really damage your reputation. But the way you manage a bad review can make all the difference because it can either become a great fiasco or a great opportunity.

How Not to Handle Bad Reviews: Foot in Mouth Syndrome

Despite how damaging a bad review can be, there is one thing that will make the situation worse: a bad reaction to it. You’ve surely heard the adage “A happy customer tells a friend. An unhappy customer tells the world.” What the adage doesn’t mention is that a bad reaction to a bad review goes viral in 30 minutes and tells the world what a terrible person you are and what an awful business you run. There are countless instances out there of business owners who fought back the wrong way against bad reviews, and in the end, it’s always the business that comes out looking like the loser. Just remember that a bad review may damage your reputation slightly, but your reaction to it can make you notorious.

Before Tackling a Negative Review, Step Back and Breathe

Nobody likes criticism. Because of this, it can be easy to take a negative review personally, but it’s absolutely crucial that you don’t. It’s also vital that you fight the urge to respond to the review immediately; otherwise, your emotions may get the best of you. Instead, step away from the situation for a short time and give yourself a moment to process what’s happened. Some of the most detrimental responses to negative reviews have occurred because a business owner got defensive and acted rashly rather than taking a timeout. It’s important to respond promptly, but not before you cool off.

Put Yourself in the Reviewer’s Shoes

Although you may not like what a critic has to say, taking time to see the situation from the customer’s perspective can really help you gain traction when it comes to converting a negative reviewer into a raving fan. Instead of defending yourself, take the customer’s side and make an effort to improve the experience for next time. Reacting this way can build strong relationships with customers, and it will show prospects that you take customers, their needs, and their satisfaction seriously.

For example, say you were a restaurant owner, and a reviewer said the food was terrible because the meat was overcooked and the vegetables were cold. Your initial reaction is probably an angry defense somewhere along the lines of “Our food is incredible, and this person has zero taste!” Let that instinct pass, and then try to consider the customer’s point of view. For one thing, everybody likes their food prepared differently, and maybe your way of doing things just doesn’t jibe with this person’s taste. Secondly, maybe the kitchen staff was having a bad day, and perhaps you do need to review a few things. Rather than going on the defensive, take each bad review as a learning opportunity, and a chance to better understand your customers.

The Best Defense Against Bad Reviews Are Good Reviews

Whether you’ve never had a bad review in your life, are struggling with your first one, or are a seasoned veteran, your sights should always remain set on cultivating positive reviews. You can do this by learning from past problems, owning up to mistakes when they happen, reaching out to customers who aren’t happy, and asking customers who have had positive experiences to speak up. A negative review will be much less detrimental when it’s one in a hundred versus one of two, so encourage satisfied customers to review and rate your business at every opportunity.

Reviews are important because they tell potential customers about the quality of your products or services, your customer service, your level of commitment to your customers, and much more. And although negative reviews can be damaging, reacting badly can be even worse for your reputation. Instead of becoming angry and defensive—which will result in a public war—try empathizing with the customer and taking steps to rectify the issue. This will defuse the situation and give you an opportunity to turn a bad reviewer into a raving fan. Book a free digital strategy session now to find out more!