Any business or organisation with an online presence will at some time come in for negative comments on social media or bad reviews. Most businesses have a website, and many engage with customers through Facebook and Twitter. While usually this is helpful in generating business, the downside is that someone who thinks they have had poor service, or bought a poor product, has a chance to express their views online for other customers to see. This can sometimes lead to defamation of your business, or of individuals within it. Every business needs to have a reputation protection strategy.

Monitoring Your Online Reputation

Keeping track of your online reputation as a business is vital. It is easy to monitor all online conversations about you, with (free) media monitoring tools, such as Google Alerts, Hootsuite, MonitorThis and SocialMention. Choose keywords to keep an eye on: as well as the business name and website, you could monitor the services you provide, the names of directors or senior staff, competitors, and even common expressions (e.g. “[business name] was rubbish”). Set alerts so that you are notified when they crop up, and can make a prompt response if required.

Posting content regularly on your social media profiles is the best way to maintain a positive online presence. Your customers (and online followers) will remain engaged and be reminded that you can be trusted. Being involved in online conversations about your industry is a good way of getting your name out there in a positive light.

Managing Negative Social Media Comments

If someone does post negative comments about your business on social media, how should you manage the conversation to avoid lasting damage? The key thing is to get involved, and not ignore it and hope no-one sees it. Take control of the situation, and be proactive.

Respond as soon as possible: 24 hours is a lifetime in social media. Be quick and positive – but not hasty: do not lose your cool and dash off a reply in the heat of the moment. Take time to collect your thoughts. If the comment or complaint is justified, be open and honest: admit there was a problem.

Try to get the conversation out of the public domain; offer to phone or meet the person who has commented or complained. Finally, keep posting positive things on your social media platforms.

Dealing With Bad Reviews

There are many reasons why someone might leave a bad review on Google or another online platform. Sometimes your business, service or product is just not a ‘good fit’ for them. It’s not every business that is right for every customer. If the business is generally a good fit, but the reviewer’s recent experience of your business was not, then see a bad review as a chance to improve your service or product, or make sure a mistake does not happen again.

Responding well to a mistake can actually build a stronger relationship with the customer than you had before. This is known as the “service recovery paradox”: a very positive service recovery can cause a level of customer satisfaction and loyalty greater than that expected if no service failure had happened.

Don’t take bad reviews personally. This can be difficult if someone names individual staff, or gives non-constructive feedback. But such comments say much about the reviewer than your business. They are probably customers you would prefer not to have anyway.

Should You Try To Get A Bad Review Removed?

This is a natural reaction, but probably not a good one, and it is notoriously difficult to get a review or comment removed from Google+ or Facebook.

A better approach is to treat the reviewer as you would any dissatisfied customer who calls you on the phone: with courtesy, empathy and a genuine commitment to make things right. Being defensive will not help. If you solve the underlying problem, the customer themselves may take down the bad review, or edit it to say they are pleased with the response received.
One other thing that always helps is apologising. Even if you did not do whatever made the customer upset, you can still be sorry for the way your customer feels.

When ‘Comment’ Becomes Harassment Or Defamation

A bad review or a negative online posting is usually a way of a customer giving their views or letting off steam. But if they go beyond honest opinion and become aggressive then it may be regarded as harassment. If they are not true, they may amount to defamation.

Harassment means actions which cause alarm or distress. You can notify the police and ask for a PIN (Police Information Notice) to be issued to the perpetrator. If the action continues, and is serious, you can obtain a court injunction against the perpetrator to prevent it.

Harassment is also a criminal offence if the conduct occurs on at least two occasions. A court can make a restraining order against or jail the perpetrator. A PIN is good evidence of a ‘course of conduct’ and that the perpetrator knew that the conduct amounted to harassment.

Defamation online means libel, i.e. a false statement that makes people think the less of you. It must be more than insults. A business can be defamed as well as a person. It is possible to seek a court injunction for the defamatory words to be removed (and to make a claim for damages).

It is important to take advice about a particular set of circumstances. Call us today to discuss your situation and how we can help.

Make A Free Enquiry

All initial enquiries are completely free of charge. Call us now on  01291 639280 or 0117 233 8744, email, or complete a Free Online Enquiry for a free no-obligation discussion, and let us explain your legal rights and options.

News & Insights