In today’s highly digital, super transparent society, simply ignoring a bad review is no longer an option. In fact, it can actually make matters worse. But just responding in itself is not enough. What you say, how you say it and even when you post that response all matter, too.

Respond quickly (within 24-48 hours):

The customer thought it was important enough to post a public review, so treat it as urgent. Respond quickly; show that you’re in tune with customer feedback and that you are an active participant in your business.

Offer to make it right:

Always offer to make your wrongs right. If someone was unhappy with their meal, invite them in for a free dinner on the house, and put your best chef on it. If their shirt arrived with a tear in the sleeve, send a replacement one and do it as soon as possible.

Many times, customers will not take you up on your offer of a freebie, but it is vital that you offer regardless if only to show potential leads that you are willing to go the extra mile.

Keep it polite:

It is important to take the high road when responding to negative reviews. Even if a customer posts a low-blow, try to keep your response polite, civil and aimed at the problem at hand: the customer’s dissatisfaction.

Be sympathetic:

Empathize with the customer’s complaints. Saying “I’m sorry” or “I understand” can go a long way in making a customer feel like their opinion is valid (and valued).

Think of future customers:

If a potential customer were to read that bad review, what concerns would they have? That their order will arrive late? That their food will be bad? That the products will not work or the clothes will not fit?

Find a way to address these issues in your response and set potential customers’ worries at ease.

Contact the customer offline:

Once you have responded publicly online, make an effort to contact the customer personally to prove it is not all for show. Send them a message on Yelp, email their Google address or call them up to see how you can make it right.

This sort of extra-mile effort may even encourage them to come back and change their review or post a new one.