If you're in business long enough, it's going to happen. Someone is going to say something bad about you online. It may or may not be true. It will be upsetting, and it will cause you to doubt everything you believe in. But, there is a way that you can turn bad online reviews into a demonstration of your company's values and dedication to customers.
Take a Time Out and Get Offline
When you first see a bad online review your heart will likely stop, then start beating really fast. You'll feel hot, and you'll be bothered. It will hurt your feelings, and it will make you angry. But, it's important to take a time out and not respond to anything when you first see a bad review. Just read it, then copy it, and get off line to think about it. You don't want to think about it while you're online because you may be tempted to respond in the heat of the moment.
Determine Whether or Not It's Spam
Some bad online reviews are simply spam. If it's a particularly nasty review with words that should not be online, take the review and cut and paste it into an editor. Take out all the bad words, and leave behind the substance of the review. Is there anything left that you can take action on? If so, and you have the power to edit the review, put the new review up and respond; if not, leave it and respond as if it didn't have any of the bad words. If it's spam, delete it without response.
Try to Make It Right
Even though you have a bad online review, it's time to try to make it right. If you can fix the problem easily, do so. Since the customer took the complaint public, you can respond in part publically by telling them what you're willing to do to make it right and how sorry you are. In addition, use the opportunity to tell your readers the best way to contact your company with a complaint in order to have it dealt with before they get frustrated enough to give a bad online review. Those who are reading will judge your response more than whatever caused the bad online review to start with.
Get More Positive Reviews
If all your clients haven't reviewed you, send them an email asking for them to give you a review. The positive reviews can dilute even the worst online review. It really should be a habit to always send emails requesting that your customer give you online reviews right at the point where they're most satisfied with your service.
By being proactive to fix the problem in the most professional way possible, you'll defuse the problem. Never respond back emotionally; just seek to fix the problem. Make the offer, and let it go. Move on. If it's truly spam and you have a way to delete the review, then take it. If it's a true criticism that you can work with, then do so. Address the problem directly, professionally, and quickly.