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Every business receives negative customer reviews. Even the best companies occasionally have unhappy customers who often like to share their opinions online. While online reviews are great for consumers, they can sometimes paint an unfair or untruthful picture of your company. Because you can’t remove these reviews on third-party sites, you need to respond to them.

There are three approaches most companies take when deciding how to handle a negative review.

Some decide not to respond at all. They believe that if the consumer used a third-party site, then perhaps they aren’t looking for a response. Or, these companies believe that not engaging with the customer might be the best way to settle the issue. However, reviews don’t go away and could continue to damage your reputation long after they are posted if they get traction.

The second way some companies respond is to defend the company and point out where the customer may be wrong. Most agree that you should never argue with a customer, but some companies believe this is the best approach when it comes to online reviews. This approach can ruin your relationship with that customer and harm your reputation online. Even if the customer is wrong, telling them that on a third-party site will probably not resolve the issue.

The right way to respond to a negative review is pretty straightforward. First, you apologize for the trouble. If the customer was dissatisfied with the service, or received a faulty product, saying sorry goes a long way. Next, you offer them a solution or some sort of remedy. It can be as simple as asking them to call your office so you can gather more information. You want to resolve the issue, not get into a big argument. Consider the template below for a response to a negative review:

“[Customer Name],

Thank you for giving us your honest feedback on our services. We apologize that you had this experience with us, and would like to make this situation better if possible.

If you could please call our office at (123) 456-7891 we would greatly appreciate it.”

This response, though short, lets the customer know that you’ve heard and understood their complaint, and are willing to help them. It also acknowledges that you appreciate their opinion, even if it was negative, as it will help your business improve later on.

If your company is suffering from a negative review or critical online stories, talk to the experts at Tucker/Hall. You can learn more about online reputation management here.