As a business, your customer reviews are your bread and butter. You can spend your entire marketing budget on paid advertising, but none will do as effective job as a positive customer review. And you can take pride in them, as each review is well-deserved and hard-earned.

But what if you receive a negative review? No matter how conscientious you are as a business, and how careful you are to always do right by your clients, an unhappy customer becomes more inevitable the longer you are in business. So it's not a matter of if you get a bad review, but when.

Fortunately, a poor customer review is not the end of the world. As much as they can sting, you as an individual and as a business can bounce back from them.

Here are four ways to reply to poor customer reviews like a pro:

Listen to the customer

Sometimes, it's as easy as letting the customer vent. In many cases, a customer's disappointment doesn't have anything to do with you personally. The truth is that you can't please everyone 100 percent of the time. Just offer a listening ear (without interrupting) and allow the customer to share opinions and get everything off his or her chest.

Keep it in perspective

One bad review doesn't mean that you need to give your staff a talking to, or change your company's operating procedures or policies. Remember that negative reviews aren't all bad -- they add credibility to your positive reviews, and give you a chance to respond and show how great you are. But do keep in mind that when you hear the same complaints over and over again, you might need to consider an adjustment to some part of your business.

Have a plan of action

Prepare for poor customer reviews. Even if you haven't gotten any bad reviews yet, have a plan of action. Anticipate what some possible complaints are, and train your staff on how to handle these situations, such as who to notify and what language to use with customers.

Many companies, including Starbucks, Apple, and Nike, use a script when responding to online complaints.

Offer a solution or a resolution

Consider that old adage that the customer is always right. Even if they're not, going the extra mile to make them happy might very well convert the upset customer's feelings, and may very well earn you a customer for life. If customers are happy again, they might even go out of their way to tell others about their positive experience with your company - and that kind of reputation for great customer service will bring you more business in the long run.

Published on: Nov 24, 2016
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