Thanks to the growing prominence of the internet, consumers can publicly rate and review their experiences with companies that they receive services from. This is a good thing, right? Instead of relying on hearsay to spread the word about your awesome company, the entire world now has access to positive feedback that will boost your business. According to a 2016 Bright Local survey, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. What if your business gets a review that’s not so positive? Don’t fret. There are ways to handle this situation that will minimize damage to your business. Here are things to consider when receiving a negative review.

Be positive and respect constructive criticism

Receiving a negative review is not always a bad thing. In fact, it can help establish realistic credibility for your company. If a business has too many positive reviews and no negative reviews, customers may think that the reviews have been falsely written to make the company look good. The average consumer knows when something seems too good to be true. A bad review also gives you a chance to take constructive criticism and improve your business. Responding positively will show other potential consumers that you value customer service and satisfaction.

Respond quickly to show customers you care

It is not a good look to leave a negative review unaddressed for too long. This can give off a perception to customers that you don’t care about providing reliable service. The longer you wait to respond to a bad review, the less likely that customer will ever return. Waiting too long will also give the customer more time to discourage others from doing business with you.

Acknowledge the customer’s concerns

This doesn’t mean that you have to admit to any wrongdoing if you feel that the customer is wrong. All this means is that you are letting the customer know that their criticism of your business is valid, and you want to actively take the necessary steps to rectify the problem. Let the reviewer know that even though they didn’t have the best experience, you still appreciate them taking the time out to leave a review on your company.

Apologize for any mistakes

If a mistake was made on your part, definitely take accountability by admitting to it and issuing a sincere apology. Sometimes there is a misunderstanding, and the unsatisfactory service could be a result of a mistake made by the customer themselves. In the event that this is the case, it is still necessary to apologize for the situation as a whole. An apology will pacify the customer and respectfully open dialogue to either fix the problem or ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Explain what went wrong and accept responsibility

In addition to an apology, sometimes an incident will require an explanation to clear up why things happened the way they did. Remember that when providing an explanation, you should avoid framing it in a way that comes across as an excuse to justify any wrongdoing. Instead, it should provide context to the problem at hand, and should be accompanied by an admission of responsibility for the customer’s dissatisfaction. This also gives potential customers more information to analyze when deciding whether or not to do business with you.

Compensate the customer

When a customer is displeased with a service, they are often left feeling like they’ve wasted their time and money. Though a simple and genuine apology can be successful in remedying a negative review, an incentive is almost always even more valuable. Consider offering the customer credit or a discount towards their next service. This gives them the opportunity to do business with you again.

Offer contact information

When writing a response to a negative review, don’t forget to provide your contact information. Generally, this should include a phone number and/or email along with your name or the name of someone in a position of authority. This allows for a chance to discuss the problem and solution offline. Providing your contact information also shows other potential customers that dissatisfaction is never taken lightly.

Everyone wants their business to have five star ratings and positive reviews. However, receiving a negative review every now and then is part of business. How you choose to deal with it will shape your company’s reputation and consumer perception. Always remain professional and positive in your responses to maintain integrity.