There is nothing more frustrating (and upsetting) than reading a negative online review about your business. You do your best to avoid this, but out of nowhere it smacks you in the face.

It’s okay. A single negative review is not the end of the world. Even the most successful small businesses face this challenge every now and again.

Fortunately, when you take the right approach, you can turn this negative into a positive.

Earlier this month, we discussed a variety of mistakes to avoid if you receive a bad online review. This time around, we’ll focus on the steps you should take if you find yourself in this position:

1. Reach Out Immediately

There is no point in waiting to respond to the review. In fact, a longer wait gives the customer another reason to be upset.

So, instead of taking your time, formulate a well-thought-out response and publish it immediately.

There is no guarantee that this will “smooth over” the situation, but it’s a step in the right direction.

2. Offer to Make it Right

How you do this depends on the customer, your industry, and the actual problem.

Take for example a local restaurant. If a customer complains that your service was poor, you can offer a future discount or meal on the house.

Not only does this make the customer feel better about the situation, but it also gives him or her another reason to engage. Subsequently, you have another opportunity to provide a positive experience.

3. Take the Conversation Offline

You can only say so much on an online review site. In your initial response, offer to take the conversation offline.

This is as simple as saying:

“Thank you for your feedback. We’re sorry to hear about your experience, and want to make it right. Would you mind contacting me directly at or (xxx) xxx-xxxx.”

Now, all you have to do is wait for the person to contact you and then do your part in solving the problem.

The next time you receive a negative online review (fingers crossed that this never happens), follow these three steps.