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How to deal with negative online reviews

Mastering the Art of Handling Negative Online Reviews: Tips and Strategies for Business Owners

If you have been in business for any significant amount of time, you likely have received a negative online review.

Depending on where the review is posted, the search engine or website may provide you with options to delete these negative reviews and mitigate their impact on your business and brand.  For example, many platforms prohibit the following in online reviews: (1) illegal content; (2) fake content; (3) offensive content; (4) derogatory content; and (5) impersonation. If the review contains any of the foregoing, you may be able to request its removal directly from the platform. 

Another alternative is to ask the customer or client to delete the harmful review, which could help you turn a negative customer experience into a positive one. Before contacting the customer, consider what prompted them to post the review in the first place. Does the review truthfully reflect its experience with your product or service? Could you do something as a business owner to improve the outcome? Once you’ve had the opportunity to review your internal operations and consider the veracity of the review, contact the customer, expressing empathy while providing a solution. Let the customer know that you appreciate the opportunity to fix the problem. If the customer takes you up on your offer to remedy the experience, you can request that they revise or delete the review. But remember, the Consumer Review Fairness Act states that penalizing or threatening customers when they post an honest review is illegal. As with all customer interactions, be patient and understanding, and work from a place of shared understanding.

If the options above do not yield results, you can take legal action to try to remove the negative online review. For example, if the review violates any laws, you can contact the website or search engine directly with this information. Before contacting the site or search engine with your complaint, flag the content first in accordance with instructions provided by the search engine or website provider.

In addition to flagging, you can also send a Cease and Desist letter to the poster. This is an acceleration in action, but it may be necessary if a customer consistently defames you and your business through online reviews. 

You may want to take legal action if you cannot resolve a bad, false, or misleading review informally or through the online platform. Taking legal action is a serious decision and can be costly. Depending on the post, you may file a defamation or harassment lawsuit against the reviewer. If the reviewer’s identity is anonymous, you may still be able to file a lawsuit but will need to complete other steps to obtain the reviewer’s identity.

Dealing the negative online reviews can be a frustrating process. We hope these tips are useful guidelines for tools that may help to mitigate and/or resolve the consequences of negative reviews. We are here to assist your business if you have any questions or want to talk to us about your online reviews. Contact us today!

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