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Steps in Handling Negative Online Reviews

Reading time: 4 mins

Removing a bad online review can be done by contacting the customer, resolving the problem or contacting the online platform.

Bad reviews are (for the most part) an inevitable part of doing business. Sometimes a business drops the ball and doesn’t deliver the 5-star customer experience it promised. But sometimes, online reviews are fake, untrue or the kind of emotional rant you see in a soap opera.

If you have received a bad or negative online review, you may be wondering what you can do. Can you take the review down, for example?

None of these will help your business’s online shopfront to convey the right message to your would-be customers.

If the review (although negative) is accurate, it may be illegal to remove the review and you could seek to minimise the damage by obtaining a flurry of positive reviews!

This article explains how a business can respond to a bad online review.

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An overview of topics covered in this article

This article will take you through how a business can respond to a bad online review.

  • Why should you try a remove a negative online business review?
  • When can you remove a bad customer review?
  • What to do when your business gets a bad review?

Why should you try a remove a negative online business review?

Google is the most popular website in the world. According to research, it’s also the top online review website. Further:

  • 90% of consumers will check reviews on Google before visiting a business — more than any other review site.
  • 21% agree that Google reviews are one of the most important factors in their search for a local business, ranking them as more influential than proximity, price estimates, and search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • Google is the No. 1 site for online reviews, followed by Facebook.

When can you remove a bad customer review?

An online customer review may be capable of being removed by a business if the business is able to prove that the review is fake or defamatory. If you want more information on defamation law in Australia, check out this article The Ultimate Guide to Defamation in Australia.

However, an online customer review that accurately reflects the customer’s experience with the business may not be able to be removed.

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What to do when your business gets a bad customer review?

Here’s what to do when your business gets a bad review:

Respond immediately

Step 1: Always respond immediately (and professionally). While you’re assessing and preparing your next move, you can significantly reduce the damage by immediately responding to the review. This website provides helpful information and response templates for bad reviews.

Bring the review to the platform's attention

Step 2: If the review is fake, flag it with the relevant online platform (i.e. Google) and request that it be removed.

Contact the reviewer

Step 3: If the review is untrue or “rant-like”, contact the reviewer directly (if you are able to) and request that they either adjust their review so that it is accurate (if this is going to benefit your business by painting it in a better light than the current review) or request that they remove their review.

Engage an online lawyer

Step 4: If the reviewer refuses to change or remove their review and that review is not true, it’s time for a heavy hand. You can either send a legal letter, putting them on notice that if they don’t take action (and your business has legal grounds to do so), your business will take legal action against them.

Step 5: If the negative online customer review is having a material impact on your business and its reputation, it’s time to take legal action. At this point, you should contact an online lawyer that can help your business draft and submit appropriate documents and, yes, you guessed it – Prosper Law can help your business with its negative online reviews!

About the Author

Farrah Motley
Director of Prosper Law. Farrah founded Prosper online law firm in 2021. She wanted to create a better way of doing legal work and a better experience for customers of legal services.

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