Negative reviews are a natural part of being a business in the 21st century. But addressing them can be a bit of a tightrope walk. The key is not to be defensive while also not discussing the issue publically.
Say you had a client for a haircut today, and you get home and discover she left a 1-star review and complained it was uneven in the front while leaving a picture.
First Step: Take a deep breath! Whether the claim is true or not doesn't entirely matter right now.
Show you are listening, apologetic, and open to feedback while also moving it to a private discussion.
For example: Hey Client X, I am so sorry about your experience today. I pride myself on impeccable service and am deeply embarrassed by this situation. Would you mind messaging or calling me at (business phone)? I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to make things right and work to earn back your business.
Keep responses short and sweet (3-4 sentences).
Now let's dissect that example response:
"I am so sorry about your experience today."
People tend to forget how powerful and good-looking an apology can be. It's common to refuse to apologize for something - especially when one doesn't feel as if they are at fault. However, the apology isn't meant for the reviewer - it's meant for future clients browsing your reviews. To put it simply, it looks good in the eyes of the public.
A quick note: if the negative review threatens legal action, DO NOT issue an apology - ever.
"I pride myself on impeccable service, and I am deeply embarrassed by this situation."
People like to feel heard, which is why the action of reviewing businesses is so popular. Potential clients also like to see that should something happen, they can talk with you about it. This can be a bit of a tight rope, though, as you don't want to explicitly acknowledge something, which is why we feel 'embarrassed'