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Existing as all small businesses now do – in the digital age – it’s unavoidable that your business is going to be open to a lot more scrutiny, review, and inevitable negativity than ever before in the public eye.

It’s important, however, to be able to view these reviews objectively. Some people are out to spread negativity for no reason, while others are out to give constructive feedback to improve your product or service.

Regardless of their intentions, it’s important that your business not only looks through the comments made, but takes action.

Here are our tips for dealing with negative feedback on your small business:

Communicate

Whether you’re reading a glowing review, or a scathing one, it’s important to realise that your potential future customers will be reading them as well.

Treating people with respect is absolute key in any communication with clients, so remember to respond to all queries – the good and the bad – in a timely and professional manner. If they pointed out a specific issue or problem, offer them a solution. If they gave an unfounded review, give your reasons why you disagree and offer them the chance to communicate with you further. Everyone that posts about your business should feel heard, appreciated, and ultimately receive some sort of resolution.

Find common themes

It’s all well and good to offer responses to comments made about your business, but it’s even more important to learn from them. By monitoring the reviews made, making notes, and identifying common themes, your small business can identify recurring issues that can be rectified before future clients ever have to face them.

While we all review and update our business processes internally, the feedback coming from external clients – even the negative ones – can help you gain a new perspective on your small business and allow you to see things from the client’s point of view. When determining your long term goals, these should absolutely be factors that are weighed in consideration.

Take action

Once you’ve identified common elements in the reviews your business is receiving, it’s important that you put a plan of action in place to rectify them. If so many of your customers are telling you the same thing, and you do nothing, future clients will see that it’s an ongoing issue, which can be off-putting.

Should new clients come on board and experience the same thing, the credibility of your small business will be in question when asked why you didn’t act when you knew the problems existed.

Note though, that any action you take is measured. As a business, you cannot afford to try to implement every single change suggested to you, as they ultimately might not be in the best interest of your broader client pool – or indeed in the interest of the business itself. Therefore, consider the points carefully, decide where action should be taken, and do it swiftly to prevent any further issues from the same problems.

In business, it’s all about your clients.

No matter how positive or negative their comments may be, you will be admired for the professionalism and courtesy with which you manage your response. Use it as an opportunity to communicate with your customers, to gain knowledge, and improve your business from the inside, out.