Turning a negative into a positive is TOUGH to do. Our brains aren't naturally wired that way.

Turning a BAD review into a positive win for the unhappy customer is tricky.

Turning a bad review into a POSITIVE REPLY that ends up
HELPING YOUR BUSINESS MORE THAN IT HURTS IT - IS AN ART!!!

Human nature makes us want to retort, to defend, to prove the attacker wrong.

What follows is one of the best articles I've read that explains how to turn it all around.

This article also makes a really great point about the fact that many times potential new customers are SEARCHING FOR THAT NEGATIVE REVIEW! They skim past the goods ones looking for worst case scenarios OR to see how a difficult situation is handled.

Negative Online Reviews Should Be Your Best PR Tool - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

From a marketing perspective, negative reviews can be a major hindrance (at least in the eyes of the business). From a PR perspective, negative reviews are your opportunity to shine.

The PR opportunity lies in the negative reviews. Those who are really interested in doing business with you will scroll down until they find the bad reviews. They will read them and then look to see how you responded to the review. Were you defensive? Were you a pushover? Did you fix the problem if it could be fixed? Did you empathize?

How you respond to negative reviews is a tremendous opportunity to tell those interested in doing business with you what kind of company you really are.

Responding to negative reviews is an art and a science, but it can have a dramatic impact on your business whether you do it right or do it wrong. What type of impact will your negative review responses have?

As I said before, this is your opportunity to shine. A great response to a negative review will reach more eyeballs than a dozen positive reviews.
Go read it all. Wasn't that a great article filled with good tips?

EONS ago I managed a Bell Atlantic Compushop retail computer store. Sales reps would be shaking because they had a customer that was so upset they were afraid and did not know how to handle it. So they'd ask me to step in. The very angry customer would barge into my office. 10 minutes later the unhappy customers would walk out smiling talking about how happy he was with the store and the resolution.

The sales reps would always run up to me and say "What did you give him to make him so happy? A $100 gift certificate or a free printer or what???"

All I did was listen, empathize, repeat back his concerns and kill him with kindness. Never gave him so much as a free floppy disk. (Yes, it was 'that' long ago.)

When people are upset and complain, they expect a fight. They kinda want it. It justifies their anger and proves your company is terrible and you are a jerk. But deep down they just want to be heard. They want to know you care and will make it right. And if you come back at negative reviews with the right tone and the right resolution who knows how many other potential customers will read the response and be impressed with how you handled it.

ON THE FLIP SIDE: Here is an example of how NOT to reply to reviews.
Joel Headley from Google sent me this the other day via Google+.

Live G+ Page with Bad Reviews AND Bad Owner Responses

"This customer had the filthiest car we have seen since opening our doors, and they refused to pay any additional money for how filthy the vehicle was. They were also two hours late to their appointment which we patiently waited for."

That's just one of many bad examples on that page.

So do you want to come out smelling like a jerk or a rose?

One REALLY GREAT SERVICE consultants could do for their clients, is review reply vetting. Have them write the reply with the tips above in mind, since they know the facts of the matter. However, they will likely still write with a little defensiveness, so then edit and turn it into the type of reply that will keep the customer happy AND win new ones!

What do you think about the tips in the article? Good stuff?