Every business, even if it does everything right, is liable to receive a negative review at some point. Sometimes the reviews are warranted, other times the customer is being irrational, but either way, the possibility of a negative review is a reality of doing business.

But negative reviews are not necessarily all bad, if you have a process in place for dealing with them.

Negative reviews can actually help you in three ways: 1) they add an element of credibility to your positive reviews, 2) they provide an opportunity to address a concern and retain a customer that would otherwise just silently abandon the business, and 3) they present an opportunity to improve your business.

Negative reviews by themselves, of course, are detrimental to your business. But if handled properly, you can turn a bad situation into something positive.

We’re going to show you a simple four-step method you can use to ensure that negative reviews have minimal impact on your business.

1. Prevent negative reviews

Your best defense against negative reviews is the provision of exceptional customer care, which creates satisfied customers and positive reviews.

The problem sometimes is, however, that you may not be aware of issues in your business because your customers simply aren’t telling you about them. Many customers are content to leave a negative review without even attempting a resolution, so you have to be proactive.

The best approach is to get in the habit of asking your customers for feedback. That way you can proactively uncover and address the issues that could lead to negative reviews.

2. Contact the review sites

First of all, you should know that it is nearly impossible to remove a negative review from a review site. Review sites want to remain objective, and will not get involved in the details of a dispute.

That being said, if you believe a review is fraudulent—or is coming from a competitor—you may have some success having it removed. Contact the review site directly if you believe you are a victim of fraudulent or negative competitor reviews.

3. Respond to negative reviews

Before you respond to a negative review, remember three things:

The reviewer can often change their review, so a resolution of the issue could turn the negative review into a positive one.

Responding to negative reviews is an opportunity for you to appear reasonable, professional, and concerned for your customers, and it provides an opportunity for you to improve your business. Make sure not to post detailed information. It is often safer to contact the reviewer privately.

The only positive outcome you can hope for is a resolution of the issue and a change of the review from the reviewer. If you become defensive, there’s no hope for a change in the review. The outcome will be mutual dissatisfaction, and the conflict will be uncomfortable for anyone else that can view it. No one wins.

4. Ask for positive reviews

Even if you do your best to prevent and respond to negative reviews, chances are one or two will remain on the review sites. That’s ok, because as we mentioned earlier, negative reviews can give your positive reviews an element of credibility. But only if you have enough of them.

The key is not to ask (or bribe with incentives) your customers specifically for positive reviews. The key is to consistently ask your customers to provide honest feedback that will help you improve your business and the customer experience.

You’d be surprised how many customers are willing to provide a positive review if you 1) ask them to provide feedback and 2) make it easy for them to do so.

Need help making it easy for your customers to leave reviews? Learn about our Online Review Builder software.