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Online reviews have become a tricky thing for businesses. Very few people take the time to actually leave a positive review. In fact, someone is more prone to leaving a bad review than a good one, right? They want to voice an injustice, announce that something went wrong, or warn others. They want to complain. Guess what I have no tolerance for? Complaining.

Unfortunately the fact is that these reviews could absolutely impact your business. Despite the fact that there have been cases where business owners paid for good reviews, users take websites and apps like Yelp, Foursquare and TripAdvisor pretty seriously. Someone might come to the Yelp page for your body shop, see these bad reviews, and immediately blacklist you.

We don’t get the credit for the good, but we get dismantled for the bad. Harsh truth.

So, as a business, how do you deal with it? How do you make those bad reviews a positive experience?

I have a simple solution that I’ve seen people already employing in a few places, and I like it.

Remember how I said I don’t like complaining? Well, same goes for you, the business owner. I know. It pisses you off that someone decided to go out of their way to point out one tiny thing wrong with your business. But you have to be the bigger person.

Jump into any negative review and answer it.

Every single negative review you get, respond. Respond as quickly and as soon after it was left as possible. “Hey, SaltyPants49, please call me. Here is my number. I’m upset that this happened, and I don’t understand why.” You get the picture. This reviewer could be entirely wrong, but you need to have one more level of empathy and listening on them. Kill ’em with kindness.

The optics of you jumping in and talking to people is actually more powerful to the rest of the world. You show the depth you have in caring about a customer, and that outweighs the negative review.

On the bright side though, I do think that anonymous (or even alias profile driven) review sites are losing their equity. The current younger generation now takes these reviews with a grain of salt. If you look at 2004 compared to now, we’ve become far more cynical about these things because we know people do them on purpose.

But, there is a last option: maybe you have nothing but terrible reviews. Maybe those two or three disgruntled customers aren’t really an anomaly. In that case, better reevaluate what you’re working on.
Maybe they’re right.