The Do’s and Don’ts of Dealing With Online Reviews

We get it, you hate online reviews. Chances are, you’ve maybe received a completely unreasonable negative review or two that has made you want to scrap online reviews altogether. It happens, you can’t please everybody. But don’t swear them off just yet.

Customer reviews have become an essential component of the decision-making process. A significant majority of consumers factored in reviews when deciding to purchase a product or service, according to a 2018 survey of online buying habits published in the eMarketer Ecommerce Insight Report.

Just over 80% of participants aged 18-29 valued product/company reviews during their decision-making process. Of all the participants in the survey, the percentage who described themselves as “taking into consideration product reviews” dips to the mid-60s but is still a large portion of online shoppers.

Comments, both positive and negative, are ultimately opportunities to improve your business. If you’re going to have any sort of online presence this year, a strategy for how to handle it will help you be ready to tackle any roadblocks that may come your way. Below are some tips to handle complaints and build your business’ relationship with its customers online.  

Prompt Responses

Timing counts and many customers who post comments on your social media expect a response within minutes. Taking longer than a day to address a comment could discourage your audience from future interactions or give the impression that your customers are not a top priority.


Something as simple as responding to a post with “Thank you” or “We hope you had fun.” is an easy way to build a rapport with your customers.  With Facebook, try using Instant replies or turning on push notifications.


Ignoring a negative review or trying to bury it beneath positive ones is unfortunately not a solution.  Address the comment as quickly as you see it come in and prompt the discussion to continue via email or direct messaging. This will allow you to address the situation away from the public and reach a solution.


While difficult at times, being able to remain level-headed is imperative while monitoring social media chatter. Remember, what you post is a direct reflection of your organization’s values, and engaging in arguments over criticism will most likely lead potential consumers to look elsewhere.


Understand how different review sites work, especially any specialty sites that consumers within your target market will use in the buying decision. Set-up Google Alerts and inform your followers when your site is featured. For the most part, review sites like Yelp, Foursquare, Glassdoor, and Manta, to name a few, offer credibility and exposure to a larger audience, so being familiar with when those platforms post and how they establish their criteria is critical to maintaining your online reputation.


While a review like: “Your business is terrible” seems like it lacks anything of substantive value, apologize for the negative experience and offer to fix the issue offline. Even if they don’t follow through, viewers can see that a genuine attempt was made and that speaks to the character of your business. If the reviews hone in on a deficiency with your business – listen and take steps toward fixing the problem.

Dealing with Fake reviews

Word of mouth can be a powerful asset or deterrent for customers searching to spend their time or money. A compilation of consumer studies found that 79% of consumers read a fake review in the last year, but 84% can’t always spot them. 94% were convinced by an online review to avoid the business. Regardless of positive or negative, fake reviews are always detrimental, but not necessarily easy to spot. Here is what to look for in a fake review:

  • Tone. Typically reviews, even when negative, stay somewhat moderate. Sometimes scathing reviews are bots or competitors and should be flagged for review on the site.
  • Non-specific criticisms. Usually, if someone is driven to leave a negative review they will highlight the specific shortcomings they experienced while in contact with your business.
  • Highly inflated positive reviews by the same person on the profile of one of your competitors. This could be a tell-tale sign that the reviewer is connected to the competitor.
  • A fluctuation of reviews by a single or small group of people for a short period of time. This is a ploy to create promotional buzz but the content is typically shallow.

Negative reviews don’t have to be a stain on your company’s online reputation. They should be viewed as an opportunity to show that customer or any others that your business values feedback and will take steps to resolve any issues.

If your business is looking to improve its digital reputation, Contact Us for an evaluation of your social media strategy and get personalized solutions.

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