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It happens to the best of businesses. You do everything you can to provide great customer service and and a quality product. Then you do a search online and find out that someone wrote something awful about your business. While this can be extremely discouraging, don't panic. There are steps you can take to minimize the impact of bad reviews.

Monitor What is Being Said

The first step in responding appropriately to negative reviews is staying on top of what is said. Regularly do online searches surrounding your business with your business's name along with words such as complaints, scam and reviews. You can also set up Google Alerts, which will automatically notify you when Google finds a mention of your company's name online. The sooner you find the bad review, the sooner you can take steps to remedy the situation.

Reach Out to the Unhappy Customer

While your first thought may be about how the negative review affects your online reputation, remember to consider how the customer who wrote the review feels as well. Your company may in fact have done something wrong, or at the very least set the customer's expectations too high.

Call or email the customer if you have the contact information, and try to remedy the situation that caused him or her to write the review in the first place. If you are able to effectively do this you will not only have gotten back a customer, you might even be able to encourage him or her to modify or completely remove the bad review.

If you do not have the contact information and the review site allows it, respond to the customer directly on the review site, apologizing for the situation and inviting him or her to contact you. At the very least, this shows others that you care about remedying the problem.

Use it as a Learning Opportunity

Take the negative review as a learning opportunity to improve your business. Maybe there is something faulty with your product or lacking in your service. Maybe you simply oversell what your product or service does. Especially if the same complaint comes up multiple times, there is a good chance your business has room to improve.

Encourage Positive Reviews

Encouraging existing customers to post positive reviews is one way to minimize the impact of the negative ones. Send customers an email after they've made a purchase encouraging them to write a review. Remind customers in your store. Ask people for reviews on social media. Reviews are extremely important for your business, so do everything you can to ensure that the vast majority of your reviews are positive.

Claim Your Listings

Many review websites allow you to claim your business's listing on their site. This allows you to fill in contact information and possibly even photos and a few paragraphs of information. For sites that allow you to respond to reviews, claiming your listing allows you to respond. Do this on larger sites such as Yelp, Google My Business, Yahoo Local and CitySearch, but also keep the smaller or more local review sites in mind.

*01/03/2019 This article was Edited to include the Google My Business Page to help you claim your business more easily