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People who post a review on Google are now being notified after a business owner responds to the review, which should motivate business owners to respond to every review as a way to help build relationships with clients.

In fact, one of the best ways to take the sting out of a bad online review is to accept it as a challenge to remedy the reviewer’s dissatisfaction. You can do this by following these steps:

  1. Acknowledge the problem.

Even if you believe the reviewer is wrong, acknowledging the issue is important. Thank them for providing feedback and bringing the issue to your attention. This is an important first step in reaching a solution.

  1. Apologize.

Provide the reviewer with an apology, even if you think they’re wrong. By taking the high road, you are demonstrating to every reader of this review — including the original poster — that your firm has set a high standard for every client interaction and intends to meet it. This apology doesn’t need to be lengthy; it just needs to be sincere.

  1. Explain if necessary.

Sometimes a bad review will go into great detail about the reviewer’s problems with a business, and when this happens, you may need to go beyond an apology to include an explanation to illuminate your side of the story. But when you do, be sure not to make any excuses. If there were legitimate reasons for your failure to provide the expected level of service, state them dispassionately.

And by all means, if you’re trolled — some disgruntled former employee or perhaps even a competitor masking as a former client posts a fake review — speak up and state (politely) that you have no record of the reviewer as a former or current client. Be classy about it and people will get it.

  1. Offer a reasonable solution.

Depending on the complaint, there may be a reasonable solution you can offer the reviewer. Most of the time, just an offer to discuss the matter privately in an attempt to reach a solution will do the job for you in showing you care.

Once a bad review on your firm is posted online, it is there for everyone to see. You do yourself no favors by ignoring it, and can potentially do yourself a lot of good by responding to it professionally and politely.

Of course, you can’t respond to something you don’t see, so be sure you have Google Alerts set up for your firm and all your employees.

Remember that 84% of people say they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. This means that online reviews have power! Turning a negative into a positive may take a little effort on your part, but it is critical to do so in order to ensure your online reputation speaks well of your firm.

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