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Bad reviews can really hurt a business. Online reviews are read and trusted by millions, and they have the power to affect business development and customer retention.

But what can a builder do when a customer flames his or her business on Yelp or Facebook? Turn it into a learning experience and treat it as a marketing opportunity, says marketing Andrea Obston. Here are some of her tips for dealing with negative reviewers:

--Stay positive
--Offer a solution
--Take the conversation offline to share account-specific information
--Communicate with the customer as you would a real person. Do not use corporate-ese. Demonstrate empathy and an eagerness to solve their problem human-to-human. Talk like a person; not a corporation. Consider the difference between: “Your problem is very important to us” and “Wow, that’s terrible. That’s not how we do business. What can we do?”
--Reply only twice – There is a group of complainers who enjoy the spotlight. These folks (sometimes called “trolls”) only want on-stage attention. They want to get you to say something off-kilter and they have no real interest in getting their issues resolved. To avoid getting into a public “war” with this group of people, only go back and forth with them twice. No more. If they continue to come back at you, take the conversation off-line with a post such as, “Clearly, this is an issue that concerns you. Let’s see what we can work out together. Send me a PM (private message) with your contact information so we can work on this together.” Most will go away and those that come back will be seen by your social media followers for what they are.

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