These days, people use the internet for a wide array of purposes. More and more customers look to interact with brands and search business-related information online. They are also on the lookout for reviews from their fellow consumers and put as much trust in them as in recommendations from family and friends.

This trend has a dark side as well. Every now and then, a negative review is likely to pop up and it can tarnish the good reputation and brand image you worked so long and hard to build. However, instead of panicking, you have to remember that there is a way to soften the punch they pack.

Angle of approach

You cannot really prevent people from writing bad reviews. They are never a good thing because they turn potential customers away and hurt your reputation. It is estimated that a single bad review can cost you around 30 customers. And despite what many assume, deleting reviews is not an overly realistic goal. Most legitimate reviews are almost impossible to do away with because they serve as reliable and trustworthy online signals.

But, do not fret. You are not powerless against this menace, not if you embrace the right approach.

To successfully defuse the negative feedback, you must set emotions aside. You cannot afford to take things personally or look down on people. Ignoring them is not good either because it suggests you are either too arrogant or too busy to care about your customers. So, come up with a consistent strategy for dealing with bad publicity. Put procedures for effective crisis management in place to react promptly every time, before the bad news spreads around like wildfire.

Get out there

Furthermore, establish a stronger online presence.

Take a good look at how your brand comes across on social media and how your business website/blog holds up. These pieces of digital real estate can help you issue a reaction and mitigate the damage to your image. Likewise, you want to claim your business listings on review sites, which are one of the major channels for local customer acquisition. Make sure all information is accurate and up to date. Take part in conversations and lively interactions—snatch the opportunity to tell your part of the story.

Next, commit to responding to every review, be it good, bad, or ugly. Try to transmit a positive message every time and show that you care. Do not rush it, especially if you are feeling upset. Note that you can put together a set of standard review responses you can use a starting point. At the same time, avoid merely recycling your canned responses and always add a personal touch.

Take reviews as insights that shed light on what your company is doing wrong. Always make an effort to solve the issue that led to dissatisfaction in the first place (first contact resolution). By going an extra mile, you increase the chances of winning unhappy customers back and improving your image in the eyes of others. Namely, in the wake of a suitable reaction, 70% of those complaining decide to give brands a second chance.

Overpower the negativity

Another tactic to keep negative reviews at bay is to maximize the number of positive ones. How to get people to write them? Well, it is enough to simply ask them. There are many ways to go about this, but one of the best tactics is probably to send well-timed and targeted emails. It makes sense to make requests from your most loyal and happy brand ambassadors. Just bear in mind that people perceive recent and fresh reviews as the most trustworthy.

Therefore, you need to generate a steady stream of them to really make a difference.

Finally, there is one tool you must use to your maximum advantage—customer service. A large part of buying experience is actually attributed to how people feel they are treated by brands. When they feel like royalty, they are likely to let mistakes slide and more prepared to overlook some pain points in the customer journey. So, display customer service excellence and you will be able to foster loyalty and turn negative reviewers into customers.

This is your chance to stand out and get ahead of the pack.

The art of weathering the storm

Nobody likes getting bad reviews and they are often an unavoidable byproduct of the digital times we operate in. Yet, your demeanor and reaction go a long, long way. To turn the tide of battle, act swiftly and compose yourself. Get in front of people and let your voice be heard. Read and respond to all reviews, customizing your answer every time. Counteract negative feedback with good energy and positive stories. Fix problems and keep your promises: always take the high road to turn the disadvantageous situation around. Never stop learning and improving.