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Back in the days before Google and social media, the only way an unhappy customer could express their discontent regarding perceived poor service or products was to write a letter or to ask to see the manager. 

Today business owners have to manage customer feedback not only in person but on Google reviews, Trustpilot, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a multitude of review sites. As a result, businesses face the challenge of effectively responding to bad or even fraudulent online reviews. 

To combat these potential reputation pitfalls, it’s crucial to establish and implement robust reputation management policies and procedures. In this article, we’ll explore strategies and techniques that can help you respond effectively to negative reviews, safeguard your online image and provide excellent customer service.

How do negative reviews impact a business?

Negative reviews can have the following impact:

  • Lower search engine rankings
  • Damage to your brand
  • Deter potential customers, investors, and suppliers from engaging with your business

Don’t think too little of the power of positive reviews. In today’s digital world, they can make or break your business.

Should you respond to negative reviews?

Yes, responding gracefully and empathetically to negative business reviews is vital. This will increase your chances of retaining the customer. Also, acknowledging the customer demonstrates to review readers that you take feedback and customer reviews seriously.

How do I answer a negative review?

If you receive a negative review, resist the urge to engage in a confrontation. You could damage your brand. Instead, be professional and polite, thanking the reviewer for their comments. 

Make sure follow-up policies and procedures (or a standard review response template) are in place to ensure the customer is contacted to discuss their feedback. If the review is from someone who’s never been a client or customer, make this clear in your response.

Can I ask a customer to remove a negative review?

Once you’ve taken the necessary steps to address the customer's concerns in a polite and adequate manner, it’s acceptable to ask them if they’d consider adjusting or removing their negative review. 

It's important to approach this request with tact and respect. Emphasise that your primary goal is to ensure customer satisfaction and address any issues they may have had.

However, it's crucial to remember that customers have the right to express their opinions and experiences. If a customer refuses to remove the bad review, it’s best to accept their decision gracefully. 

Pressuring or insisting on removal may lead to further dissatisfaction or harm your business's reputation. Instead, focus on proactive measures to mitigate the impact of the negative experiences.

How do I deal with fake negative reviews?

Although Google has a raft of policies concerning fake reviews, it’s almost impossible to enforce the rules. Anyone can create an account and post a fake review, including a small business’s competitors. 

You can ask Google to remove a fake review. However, this is not easy as Google doesn’t know who your customers are and will not accept “this is not a customer” as a valid reason for deleting a review. You can reply to fake reviews with a standard response: "We’ve no record of you purchasing goods or services from our business”.

The UK Government has recognised the problem caused by fake reviews. In response, it has proposed making commissioning and submitting them illegal under the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill. Tech companies will be held accountable for neglecting their responsibility to verify the authenticity of reviews before publishing them.


Learn more about this Bill


What’s online reputation management?

Online reputational management involves having a clear strategy for managing customer online feedback. This includes putting in place policies and procedures to identify:

  • How and when feedback is being posted
  • Who’s posting the feedback?
  • How feedback is responded to
  • Reporting fake and malicious reviews

Another element of online reputational management is investing in quality social media monitoring tools such as Hootsuite or Talkwalker.

What’s a brand reputation audit, and should every business have one?

A brand reputation audit involves using your social media tools to scan for mentions of your brands and gather them all in one place for analysis. It provides an opportunity to:

  • Identify new consumer groups
  • See how your brand is perceived in different areas/jurisdictions
  • Compare your brand’s online reputation to your competitors
  • Identify flaws in your business processes, e.g. slow delivery times, rude customer service

To protect your brand, it’s vital to complete regular online reputation audits, which should form part of your overall strategy.

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The impact of negative reviews on a business must be considered, as they can lower search engine rankings, damage brand reputation, and deter potential customers, investors, and suppliers from engaging with the business. 

Online reputational management provides a clear strategy for managing customer online feedback, including putting policies and procedures in place that help protect your brand. If you need assistance in managing reputation issues or would like to conduct an online reputation audit, LawBite is here to help. 

LawBite can provide valuable guidance and support to ensure your company has robust reputation management policies and procedures. To find out more, book a free 15 minute consultation or call us on 020 3808 8314.


Additional resources

In closing

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice on which you should rely. The article is provided for general information purposes only. Professional legal advice should always be sought before taking any action relating to or relying on the content of this article. Our Platform Terms of Use apply to this article.

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