The golden age of information has provided customers with a new tool in combating bad business experiences, the online review.

Receive enough negative reviews and your business can take a major financial hit and further yet if they really start to pile up you can even face losing your company altogether. So dealing with bad reviews should rank high on your priority list before they truly become a serious issue.

Need help? Well here are 6 tips to keep your business ahead of the negative review curve.

1. Prevent negative reviews in the first place

In many cases an irate customer will contact you prior to posting a negative review online. When a customer contacts you, or a member of your customer service team, with a concern, do everything within your power to solve the problem. If the customer perceives your efforts to be less than adequate to alleviate the issue that is when they may turn to the Internet to post a scathing review. Remember an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

2. Continuously check review sites

Whether it’s you or one of your employees, someone with your company needs to check review sites daily, at the minimum. Stay on top of reviews that could eventually snowball into time consuming complications by keeping up­to­date and…

3. Respond promptly

When the inevitable bad review pops up respond to it immediately. Carefully craft your reply and be polite. Remember everyone who searches for reviews of your company will read the negative review and the corresponding response.

4. Ask customers to provide reviews

Remain neutral in your request, but prompting customers to review your products and services will usually net more positive than negative posts. Again, don’t specifically ask your customers to give positive reviews. On the flip side you can request reviews to be posted on particular sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp or CitySearch.

5. Learn from negative reviews

Turn a negative into a positive by learning important lessons from bad reviews. Quite possibly a customer’s negative review may reveal a weak point in your company. Take it seriously. Make a good faith effort to fix the problem and in the future you’ll avoid the same negative review.

6. Have defamatory reviews removed

Have you encountered a negative review that you believe goes too far? Maybe you have suspicions that a competitor posed as a customer to damage your business with an outrageously negative post. If this is the case you can contact the review site to have the post removed. Unfortunately having reviews removed isn’t exactly easy but if you believe the post is less than legit it’s worth a try.