Remember that the reviewer is a customer and has friends and family. They came into your business to give it a shot. If you respond using the tips below, it’s possible to turn a negative review into a brand ambassador. People don’t need your business/brand to be perfect — they want to see how you engage with people.

Take some time to respond. Not a lot of time, you want people to be able to rely on your quick response, but make sure you don’t react purely on emotion. If you are the business owner, it is hard not to take a bad review as a personal attack. While you want to ensure you don’t let your emotions take charge, it’s important to write with sincerity. Responders can make the situation worse by sounding sarcastic or disingenuous.

Be kind and genuine. While you are responding to one person, and your response should come across that way, remember that the audience is potentially much larger and far-reaching. Not only will other people who visit the review site see the response, but it’s possible those people could share the review and response with their own networks.

Be specific. If a customer mentions something in particular about the business, use that in your reply. Not only does this demonstrate that you are not a robot, but it makes the complainant feel heard and understood.

Remember that feedback and criticism can be helpful. This reviewer has taken the time to invest in the business in an attempt to make it better — thank them. Business owners are always looking for a way to understand the customer experience, and there is no better way than a review. The reviewer may have a relevant point about the business, so it’s important to consider the content without going on the defensive.

Offer to take the conversation private. You would never want to have a less than pleasant dialogue with an unhappy customer in your physical store with other customers around, so why would you do it in front of more watching eyes online? Offering a phone number and a way to connect privately ensures the reviewer that you want to fix the situation for them, not just for the digital audience.

Also, if you decide to offer a free or discounted service to make up for the bad experience, it’s best not to do this in front of other customers and potential customers — that might encourage bad reviews to get free stuff.