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How to Respond to Bad Reviews to Build Customer Loyalty Here's what to do when your business gets slammed on Yelp or other review sites.

By Brett Relander

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

While it is always important to reach out to and attract new customers, it is likewise imperative that you work to maintain your existing customers. Customer loyalty is essential to any successful business enterprise, even more so when you are first starting out with your business. All it takes is one customer who is unsatisfied with your business or product to scare away a dozen others.

In this social media age, bad reviews can quickly and easily reach hundreds if not thousands of prospective customers. As review sites such as Yelp have become increasingly popular and powerful, it has become even more important to make certain that you respond appropriately to bad customer reviews. While you cannot always prevent bad reviews, if you respond correctly, you can help to mitigate their damage and even convert a customer with a bad experience into a loyal customer.

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Be proactive

Preventive action is always best in order to ensure bad reviews do not happen in the first place. But the truth is that you cannot always please everyone and bad reviews are inevitable. You must accept this and be prepared to take action when they do occur. The worst thing you can do is ignore a bad review and hope that it goes away. Although this strategy might work some of the time, there can be potential fallout. For instance, you never know how many people who could have been customers will see that review and never even contact you based on what they read. Furthermore, some unsatisfied customers simply will not go quietly into the night. If you fail to respond and your unsatisfied customer does not receive acknowledgement, he or she may well decide to turn up the heat. In that case, what started out as a bad situation can quickly turn into a nightmare.

Begin by making sure you have a system in place to track when you have received a bad review. Ignorance is not an excuse for failing to respond to a bad review. There are services available that can be used for notifying you when you receive reviews on the most popular sites, including Yelp. Among those services are Google Alerts, ReviewPush, and ReviewTrackers.

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Appropriate responses to negative reviews

When you do receive a bad review, it is important that you do not respond emotionally. It is only natural to feel offended and even defensive, but do not let that come across in your response. Regardless of your customer's complaint, even if you think it is unfounded, recognize that that what matters is that in your customer's perception, the complaint is extremely well founded. The key here is to respond promptly to any complaint and be sincere in your response. In many instances, you will find that this is all it takes to make the customer happy and retain him or her as a customer. Even when that is not the case, if other customers or prospects see that you are attempting to resolve the problem, you can forestall further damage.

Related: 3 Ways to Create Customer Experiences That Boost Sales

Brett Relander

Managing Director at X1 Sports Nutrition

Brett Relander is founder and managing director of X1 Sports Nutrition (http://X1Fuel.com). He has a degree in exercise science, is certified as a Master Fitness Specialist and in the biomechanics of resistance training, and is an advocate of all-natural nutrition and advanced performance training.

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