Most businesses dread the possibility of receiving negative reviews from their customers. Surprisingly enough, however, occasional bad reviews add credibility to your online presence.

Statistics show that consumers look most favorably on companies that have slightly less than perfect ratings. Potential customers figure that absolute 5-star ratings may be rigged, but ratings in the range of 4.0 to 4.7 are still excellent and have the added advantage of veracity. Here are some online reputation management strategies for dealing with negative reviews.

Don’t Panic

If your company receives a negative review, you may feel the urge to respond hastily, especially if you think that it is unwarranted. However, step back, and consider your reaction objectively. Answering quickly and unwisely may irreparably damage your reputation, whereas making the effort to respond diplomatically may make the situation advantageous to your company.

Accept Responsibility

Even if your customer wrote their complaint vituperatively, and you feel that their grievance is unjustified, accept the admonishment and apologize for their inconvenience. Don’t put the blame on specific company personnel. Instead, show appreciation for your customer’s openness in bringing the problem to your attention, and accept a measure of blame.

Provide Compensation

Be sure to respond in some way to all the customers who write negative reviews. Sometimes an apology is sufficient online reputation management. Often, however, providing some form of compensation in the form of a refund or product replacement is the best way to handle the situation. Statistics show that customers whose problems are promptly and satisfactorily handled are more likely to remain loyal to your business in the future. Never threaten your customers to force them to remove negative reviews. Leave it up to them to delete them if they choose to do so.

Publicize Your Response

If the situation is successfully resolved, publicize this in a response to your customer’s review. Share the details of how you handled the complaint. This openness inspires loyalty in other customers by letting them know that if they have any difficulties, you will do your utmost to resolve them.

In conclusion, remember that although negative reviews are a nuisance, if you handle them with honest and thoughtful online reputation management, you can turn them to your advantage.