Online reviews, the good and the bad ones are unavoidable side effects of doing business in the 21st century. It’s incredibly difficult to avoid getting your business reviewed. Even local brick-and-mortar stores have customers who will write something online about them, whether they like it or not. And it’s not the good reviews that might make you want to hide from. The bad reviews can damage your business’s reputation in a way that’s apparent from the business’s bottom line. With their damaging potential, it only makes sense to try to avoid as many negative reviews as possible.

Avoiding and ignoring is not the same, though. If you want to avoid getting bad reviews, you should ensure your products, services, and customer care are top-notch. That’s how you avoid bad reviews, by not giving people a reason to write them. Ignoring them is a completely different thing, and it can damage your business more than the negative reviews.

How Ignoring Bad Reviews Damages Your Business

No matter what you do, your business will receive a negative review. In fact, some might say that people are more likely to vent by posting negative reviews than they are to provide kudos. At the same time, people are also more likely to check out your business online before they walk through the door and buy something.

You can probably see now why ignoring bad reviews damages your business: you might be comfortable with pretending they aren’t there, but your potential customers might not. So you can easily find yourself in a situation where your business is suffering, and you have no idea why.

People who see that you don’t reply to bad reviews will think that you don’t care about your customers and their opinions. And they might not be happy to do business with you. But the opposite is true, too — people who see that you reply to bad reviews might be convinced that your customers matter to you.

How to Start Handling Negative Reviews

So what’s the first step in handling negative reviews? It’s simple. You need to figure out where people are posting them, claim your business’ page on that website, and set up a notification system to give you a heads-up when a new review is about to go online.

That’s the most basic thing you need to do, acknowledge that reviews are something that affects your business, visit the places where people like to leave reviews, and start getting word of new ones. If you need help keeping it all under control, your best bet would be to start using a third-party review management system.

Learn How to Respond

There are several ways you can reply to a negative review. Before you start thinking about them, however, you need to know that the best reply to a negative review is a quick reply. You want to minimize the time a bad review spends online without a reply. It’s paramount to reply to negative reviews quickly.

As for the reply itself, you can pick one of several ways to respond to them. You can reply with an apology, for example, and accept the blame for the reasons for the bad review. That’s a good start, at least. Next, you should propose a way to right the wrong, and you want to try to move the conversation away from the public space. So let them know they can contact customer service, for example, to discuss how to move forward with righting the wrong.

At the same time, if you’re absolutely sure that someone left a bad review out of spite, or if the review isn’t truthful, realistic, or is just written to cause damage, you might want to say so in the reply. These types of replies can even go viral, which can work great for your business. But you need to be absolutely sure when you start accusing customers.

The Best Thing About Bad Reviews

Reviews, and especially the bad ones, are an important source of customer feedback. They can pinpoint the major flaws in your product, service, customer service, or any other side of your organization. So not only should you reply to them, but you should also use bad reviews to get the information you can use to improve your business.

Finally, you should know that you’re not alone in the reviews game. It is often tough to reply to all the reviews, especially when you’re running a campaign to increase their numbers. In that case, you can easily get help from specialized management solutions that will help you track and reply to your reviews. Don’t be afraid to get help if you can’t manage the reviews on your own — an investment into a good tool for review management might pay for itself in the long run.