How should a business handle negative online reviews?

It's easier than ever for consumers to make their opinions about individual businesses known far and wide thanks to online review sites. While it's definitely important for consumers to have a voice, business owners are rightly concerned about the impact a negative review can have on their reputation. In this case, there are ways to turn negative reviews into a positive situation. 

According to the U.S. Small Business Association, responding correctly to negative reviews can actually be beneficial. The key word here is correct, as responding to a negative review with a personal attack or snarky language will only make the situation worse. Be kind and courteous while acknowledging your customer's issue. If there are discrepancies about what happened, bring them up, but frame them as a misunderstanding or miscommunication. No matter what, apologize for the problem identified by your customer. You should also let them know how you plan on correcting the problem in the future. A customer is more likely to return to your business if she believes you're taking the right steps to rectify the issue. It's natural for a business to make mistakes, but how you handle them shows your true character. 

You might encounter a situation where a customer is providing false or misleading information to the public about your business. In this case, you may be able to file a lawsuit since making untrue statements that cause harm is considered defamation. Additionally, you can sue someone for making these false statements online, which would fall into the category of libel. 

Investopedia explains that for a defamation suit to be successful, the person being accused must have made a statement passing itself as fact. That means that insults don't usually count as defamation since they are largely subjective. However, if a person leaves a review asserting that your business did or did not do something, you could have a legitimate case. You must also show that your business experienced actual harm as a result of the false statement, such as lost revenue. 

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