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5 Tips For Responding To Negative Reviews Without Coming Across As Rude Or Petty

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The next time someone leaves a negative review about your business, take a moment before responding. The best approach is to ensure that you always come across as courteous and professional – even if they are being totally ridiculous and entitled (as is often the case).

In this article, we’re going to share 5 handy tips for responding to negative reviews properly, without coming across as being rude or petty.

1. Get all the facts

The first step is to get all the facts. For example, if you are a restaurant owner and a guest is complaining about their experience, you should speak with the service staff who dealt with them directly. This is your opportunity to hear both sides of the argument and gather the facts before giving your response.

2. Don’t take the reviews personally

Especially when this is your business, it can be very difficult not to take a negative review personally. However, it is very difficult to respond objectively if you are hurting.

In fact, a negative review is an opportunity for you to show just how great you are. Be professional and courteous and let everyone else who encounters the review see how you always take the high road.

Remember, most prospective customers will expect the occasional 1-star review. It happens. And more often than not, they only care about how you respond.

So, don’t take it personally. Instead, try to alleviate the complaint and focus on getting even more 5-star reviews in the future.

Put it this way: when people encounter this SEO company on the Gold Coast and find over 500, 5-star reviews, do you think they’re going to be put off by that one negative review from that time a customer had a bad experience?


But they might be if the review received a petty response from the business…

3. Thank the customer for taking the time to share their feedback

When you start by thanking the customer for taking the time to share their feedback it quickly diffuses all negativity. It also signals to your other prospective customers that you value all feedback – even when it isn’t particularly pleasant.

4. Show empathy and understanding

Let your customers know that you understand and appreciate how frustrating it must have been for them – and that their experience isn’t something that happens often.

While it is perfectly natural to get defensive, you must keep those feelings private. Instead, when responding, you have to come across as perfectly professional and understanding.

Remember, you don’t know what is going on behind closed doors. This customer could be having a very difficult time in their life right now and the way that you respond to them will have a massive impact.

Always come from a place of empathy when interacting with your customers – the good and the bad.

5. Don’t say “sorry”; apologise

Understand that there is a big difference between the words:

  • “I’m sorry.”
  • And “I apologise.”

When you use the words “I apologise” you are actively taking ownership of their negative experience. It may seem like an inconsequential difference, but language is very powerful and the subtle differences can make a big impact on the way your response is received.

Put it this way: you wouldn’t say “I apologise” to a friend at a funeral. In that case, “I’m sorry” would be the appropriate thing to say.

Why does it matter how you respond?

Look, we understand that there will be instances when a customer leaves a 1-star review with a totally unjustified comment. It could be that they had absolutely no reason to complain and are simply trying to be spiteful for no good reason. It happens.

In any case, sometimes people will leave negative reviews with a very good reason – and you should respond to all reviews as positively and constructively as possible.

If not for the customer – but for all of your prospective customers who might read your reviews and your responses. You’ll struggle to expand your business if you throw your toys out of the pram any time a customer has something negative to say about you.

You should be seen as being professional at all times if you wish to maintain a strong brand image.

If you are seen to be getting nasty and petty whenever someone leaves a review, you’ll turn a lot of potential customers off – and you might even put people off leaving a positive review with a few helpful suggestions for fear of getting an earful.

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