Your business received a scathing review on Yelp. Or Facebook Reviews. Or Angie’s List. It’s inaccurate, exaggerated or just a simple misunderstanding. Is it possible to delete the review?

In most cases, it’s not going to happen. (If you believe the review to be fraudulent or it concerns a product you don’t sell or a service you don’t provide, you can report it to most platforms. For instance, on Yelp, login to your business account and click the “Flag this review” button.)

For just plain negative reviews, it definitely stings, but you can’t delete them. So, you have a choice: complain about the unfairness of it all or engage with the unhappy customer to the best of your ability. We vote for the second option. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Reach out and try to resolve the problem

Most people are happy when others try to understand them. Whether you are a marketer at corporate headquarters or the manager of the local store, talking or emailing with customers should fill you with excitement, not dread. Approach the person as you would anyone in your store—you are there to serve and help.

Whether you respond privately through the reviews platform or publicly, do this:

  1. Apologize for the experience the customer received. You can always investigate their claims with your staff offline, but the reviewer’s feelings and feedback matter.
  2. Offer to address the issue with your staff. Tell the reviewer you will make sure the problem doesn’t happen again, if you can guarantee that.
  3. Use personal and friendly language that sounds natural.
  4. Avoid cutting and pasting past responses.
  5. Stay positive and avoid defensive language.
  6. Thank the reviewer for their comments.

   2. Thank your happy customers

This is the best part of the job. When a great review is posted (Connectivity customers receive text or email alerts to new reviews), thank the customer using normal language.

Not so great: Your review matters to us. Thank you for sharing your opinion.

Awesome: The three-cheese lasagna is amazing, we have to agree! We’re so glad you chose us for your holiday party. Come back anytime.

  1. Get ahead of the review
    It’s possible to ward off one or two-star reviews before they ever hit social media. Here’s what to do:

No one likes a negative review. But with a little effort and goodwill, you can leave a trail for future customers. Even if the unhappy customer is never satisfied, the fact that you tried will leave a legacy for as long as the Internet lasts.

Olga is Senior Manager in Marketing and Sales Operations for Connectivity.