Sooner or later, everybody gets negative reviews on social media. This is not always a result of poor service or a bad product. If you generate a lot of sales and a good amount of traffic, eventually there will be somebody who you rub the wrong way or who feels you didn’t handle a situation in the proper manner. When this happens, don’t panic. There are plenty of ways that you can make a negative into a positive.

Contextualize the Review

Many negative reviews tend to read as angry venting rather than constructive criticism. Before you make any sort of response, you must first place the review in context and determine why it came about. Remember that even angry yelling can have a legitimate source behind it. The way in which the review is presented is not necessarily an indicator that the problem isn’t a valid one. Read the feedback carefully and identify where the root of the problem lies. From there, place the issue in a larger context within your sales framework. Is this a shipping matter? Did a product arrive damaged? Is the person upset that customer service didn’t fix an issue? Knowing where the problem stems from is a big first step.

Respond Quickly

Once the review comes in, you need to respond as quickly as possible. Under no circumstance should you delay a response for more than 24 hours. Leaving a negative review by itself with no response says two things. First, it tells the customer leaving the review that you don’t consider their complaint to be a valid one. Second, it indicates to other readers that any issues they experience during the shopping process in your store will go unresolved. If the matter requires more time to analyze, let the person know that you have heard their complaint and are looking into things further. After that, provide periodic updates to let the person know you are dealing with the issue.

Stay Positive

Even if the person providing the negative review follows up with more anger and hostility, it is up to you to stay positive throughout the interaction. This level of positivity needs to be more than just a matter of lip service. You should make sure that every reaction you provide reads as sincere and interested in doing what it takes to solving the problem. One way to calm down somebody who seems very upset is to let them know what steps you are taking to resolve the issue. The transparency and sympathy you provide can help defuse a difficult situation and turn even the worst complaints into a positive interaction.

Put the Ball in the Reviewer’s Court

Make sure that you respond publicly to the review at least once. This helps prove that you are committed to being transparent. On most social media platforms, your response to a negative review will show up right below the review itself, which helps demonstrate your level of commitment to other potential customers. If the issue requires multiple steps in order to resolve, or if you need more information from the customer in order to fix the problem they had with you, offer a chance for the reviewer to send a private message to follow up further. Don’t take things private yourself, as doing so can make it seem like you are trying to cover something up, but do give the reviewer a chance to reach out to you on an individual basis.

Understand Review Guidelines

Most social media platforms have a policy about reviews to make sure that they are fair and free of undue bias. Comments that might be hurtful to other customers, especially racially insensitive remarks or sexual harassment, are not tolerated under these policies. If a review seems unfair or abusive to you, check the social media network’s guidelines to determine whether it violates any of the terms and conditions. At the same time, don’t use this process as a way of silencing poor reviews. Whenever possible, try to use the procedures above to resolve an issue. Knowing the policies around reviews, however, gives you the ability to stop activity that might be hurtful to other readers and customers.

A negative review might seem like it will certainly damage you store, but a positive response can turn things around. If you handle negative reviews in a professional, courteous, and responsive manner, you can show other customers that you are committed to making things right and providing the best experience possible.