How to deal with online customer complaints and negative reviews

As the old adage goes, “A customer who gets good service will tell one person, yet a customer who gets bad service will tell 10 people.” This has never been truer in this day and age – with the advent of social media and the mobile world, it is now harder than ever to simply sweep bad press under the rug, even if it is malicious or false. And the chances of your potential clients reading these reviews are even higher than before.

In an ideal world, you would have an endless stream of manageable clients, who would love your products or services because you would deliver exactly what they wanted (and they would know what they want!) and you would be making money for them as well as yourself. However, we all know that this is far from reality.

If you’re receiving negative reviews from some disgruntled ex-clients, these can have the ability to inflict real damage to your brand’s image. Here’s how to cope with negative reviews and neutralise these effects:

• First of all, don’t panic! It’s very easy for business owners to take any criticism personally. Also, don’t respond right away – you need to be in the right mind-set to tackle the problem logically. Don’t let your emotions cloud your feedback. Remember, it’s only one person’s perspective, and everyone understands that things can go wrong in business.

• Take the time to contact the customer privately. Sometimes this can be impossible because they may not leave their details. In this case, you can respond publically but do so in a way that will demonstrate your business’ values and also showcase your concern for all customers, including potential clients who may stumble upon this negative review.

• Whether you think their grievances are legitimate or not, offer to compensate. This amendment is at your discretion – it could be a refund, a free service or product, or something else for their next visit. Chances are, they’ll withdraw their review and state how happy they are with your business.

Although negative reviews can feel like a slap in the face, handling them diplomatically will get you respect from customers, and will show others that you know how to turn a bad situation into an a positive one. If you feel that you may benefit from reputation management, search for a business that specialises in that field.

Common Complaints Businesses Have When Their Reputation is Tarnished Online

In the world of business, your name is everything. Your reputation matters, to yourself and to your current and potential customers or clients, so protecting it is crucial. What happens then, when your reputation comes under threat? How do you respond?

There are numerous ways this could potentially happen to your business, particularly with the ever-increasing reliance on online communication, but those attacks can be addressed. With effective reputation management, you and your business will be able to get back on the front foot once again.

Here are some of the more common issues that businesses face when their reputation comes under fire online.

1) Negative online reviews of your business

Most businesses in the customer service industry, from restaurants to mechanics and everything in between, will no doubt have been reviewed online by both happy and unhappy customers. While all businesses will happily accept a positive review, the negative reviews from unhappy customers can understandably be a bitter pill to swallow and a detrimental one to your business. It could be anything from a posting on the business’ Google + page to a negative Facebook page. A reputation management specialist like ReputationRepair.com will work to have those negative reviews removed, or at least counteracted with positive testimonials from happy clients.

2) Trademarking problems

Say you run an online business selling high quality, handmade birthday cards. You call it Birthday Cards R Us. Everything is going nicely and your business is a success, but for whatever reason you never trademark the name. Then three years later another person starts up an online birthday card business and calls it Birthday Cards R Us. Their cards are nowhere near the standard and quality of yours, but they’ve trademarked the name and so legally have exclusive use of Birthday Cards R Us. This can have a negative bearing on the reputation of your business, especially if customers are buying the below par cards thinking they’re actually buying from you. See the problem? ReputationRepair.com’s reputation management specialists can help you overcome issues with trademarks and business names, ensuring you maintain the reputation you’ve worked so hard to protect.

3) Libellous stories printed online

While reviews are often a statement of opinion and perception (and often perception can be grossly exaggerated or affected simply by a ‘bad day’), news stories or blog articles that try and pass off blatant lies about a business as cold, hard facts is another kettle of fish. Libel is exactly this – portraying lies as the truth in written form – and can often originate from disgruntled customers or ex-employees. It can be particularly damaging to the reputation of your business, especially if it’s not dealt with effectively by a reputation management specialist like ReputationRepair.com.

These are just some of the ways that a business’ reputation can be negatively impacted online. But there’s no need to wave the white flag and surrender if you get a bad review online. With some effective reputation management strategies you can overcome these hurdles and continue building your name amongst the people that matter.

How much money can a company lose due to negative search results?

Most companies are too embarrassed to admit an exact amount of money they’ve lost due to negative search results. Nevertheless one estimated that they believe the effect of the first two Google results optimizing on their brand had cost the business between six and seven figures.

How much impact does a negative search result have on a business?

Tests have shown that when customers are searching for your company and search results are displayed, if the choice is between your company site and a site that showcases negative reviews, 7/10 customers will click on the negative content first.

Checkout our Reputation Management service.


What does reputation management mean?

It refers to the steps taken to decrease the degree of damage caused to the online reputation of a company or the steps taken to improve the online reputation of a company.

What does pre-emptive reputation management entail?

It is designed to prevent reputation management fiascos from ranking for important terms. While preventing reputation management issues is always the ideal solution, Pre-emptive Reputation Management solutions often aide in defending against unreasonable or unwarranted attacks.

Why do I need to make reputation management a priority?

Companies need to pay attention to what their stakeholders have to say about their brand. A stakeholder could be a customer, employee, or even a business partner–anyone that interacts with your brand. Numerous studies prove that, as customers, we trust the reviews and opinions of others “like ourselves” and are less trusting of official corporate communication.

How long with the process take?

Reputation Management is a campaign, not a one-time solution, so as long as you have an online presence, reputation management will be a concern. If you’re wondering how long it takes to push down negative sites the general answer is 1 – 2 weeks.

What factors affect the length of the process?

The strength of any negative search results

The level of aggressiveness required

The amount of positive content to be generated

How do you remove negative search results about my business?

In relation to corporate entities in some instances we have the ability to contact the company directly and ask them to remove certain comments or imagery. Due to freedom of speech public opinion cannot be avoided therefore instead we populate search results with positive comments and push negative opinions off the first few results pages.

I don’t have a big budget but I still want to protect my online reputation what should I do?

Prevention is better than a cure therefore if you don’t have any reputation issues, now is the time to start preparing for an attack. It’s much easier to build a positive reputation–including optimized content for Google–while things are calm.

Should I hire an attorney or reputation management company?

Online Reputation Management is defiantly an affordable alternative to hiring an attorney. Many hired attorneys eventually will have to partner with an Online Reputation Management firms in order to have the negative items removed from the first page of Google, therefore knowing this fact may save you on their cost.

How do you ensure that the positive comments you post don’t appear false or fake?

As a company we ensure that the results we create seamlessly blend in with current search results as well as with search results that may appear in the future. Our aim is to ensure that our posts appear natural in order to stop people questioning what they see and scrutinizing the validity of the information they read.

How do you avoid online identity theft?

Just like you shred paperwork so people can’t steal your personal information, don’t leave a “virtual” path behind when it comes to your identity. Someone “posing” as you could ruin your reputation very quickly. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of what people are saying about you online and if people are claiming to be you.

Unfortunately, cyber crimes are on the rise. Not only could your reputation be tarnished but even worse, your company could be fiscally ruined. However, you can take pro-active steps to make sure identity theft doesn’t happen to you and your company. Although the Internet is a great marketing tool for businesses, remember it is also known for spreading rumors and scandal.

Why do you need an online reputation?

There are more opportunities than ever before to quickly rank negative or slanderous results. If you don’t protect yourself, someone can easily post a comment, make a video, create a blog post, file a complaint, promote your competition or develop a hate site. For instance an angry employee may leave your company with revenge on their mind and wreak havoc on your online reputation.

Who actually cares about my online reputation?

The most common groups are consumers, business partners, stock holders, marketers, journalists, prospective employees, co-workers and personal contacts.

How can I assess my online reputation if I suspect to be under attack?

Most users won’t look past the first page or two of search results therefore start with simple searches on Google, Yahoo and MSN in regards to your name, your company name, brands and products and high profile employees. After examining the results of such searches will you be able to identify whether you need to fix your online reputation.

How is online reputation done?

We create new, positive content such as special SEO press releases, SEO optimized articles, social media campaigns, optimized video, blogs, websites, and other media. We also identify positive information already in the search results that utilizes your key phrases. Then we increase the relevance of the preferred content through a process of search engine optimization. This includes building a web of networked information intended to promote the positive content naturally over time.

What are the benefits of reputation management?

Organisations need to realize that to succeed in today’s competitive market it’s necessary to sustain and maintain a good reputation both online and offline. A good reputation builds confidence and grows sales; which ultimately leads to better money and higher profits. A good reputation is also a good entry barrier to most rivals. Thanks to the increasing popularity of buyer generated media sites (blogs, forum, message boards) general public can quickly receive the most recent news and express their perspectives which can make or break your brand.