How to manage negative reviews on the Internet?

Table of content:

If you incorrectly respond to a negative review about your company or ignore it, in some situations you can get into a reputation scandal. Regardless of the size of the company, it won't do any good. Therefore, you need to be able to manage negative reviews, competently neutralizing their effect. Let's figure out how to do it correctly.

Procedure for removing negative feedback

Negative and mixed reviews are a real problem for responsible companies. Often, most of them do not have any justification, but are the users work from who are hostile to your company for some reason, and in some cases from unscrupulous competitors. The main task when dealing with negative reviews is to prove that such information damages the business reputation. For this, the following procedure is suitable:

  • Send a complaint to your hosting provider.
  • Send a complaint to a search engine.
  • Send a claim to the owner of the review site.

Unfortunately, in reality, such measures rarely give a positive result, so the next step may be to go to court with a demand to remove untrue reviews from sites and recover reputational damage. However, even the judicial practice in Russia develops in such a way that such claims are rarely subject to satisfaction. The court motivates such decisions with the following arguments:

  • Negative user reviews are evaluative, and, accordingly, subjective, judgments.
  • The functionality of such sites allows the company to leave a response to every negative review, which helps to refute the information contained there.
  • Due to objective limitations in the ability to determine the reliability of the data, the owner of the review site is not obliged to remove bad reviews and is responsible for this only if he fails to comply with a court decision that has entered into force.

As you can see, it is not so easy to remove the usual reviews of dissatisfied customers, even by filing a lawsuit. The situation is quite different if the text contains a direct accusation of a crime (for example, fraud). The court with a high degree of probability recognizes such information as discrediting and belittling the business reputation, the basis for this will be Article 152 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation.  

An integrated approach to dealing with negative reviews

The specialist responsible for SERM (online business reputation management) should know 5 important features of working with negative reviews:

  1. Not every review left can be categorized as “defamatory information”.
  2. There are real chances of removing and receiving compensation for reputational costs if there is a direct accusation in the text of a crime or a statement that can be recognized as such.
  3. Instead of too many and unsuccessfully attempts to get bad reviews removed, sometimes it's better to shift your focus to encouraging customers to write positive reviews about working with you.
  4. Conducting thorough and meticulous work on each bad review. You just need to imagine that you are not writing an answer to an angry client, but simply to a person who is now experiencing difficult feelings. Such answers are usually published by representatives of large companies, who are well aware that even one wrong word can lead to a serious scandal. Therefore, it is always necessary to communicate politely and culturally, regardless of the message of the review itself. You need to answer with a cool head, realizing that the negative is not directed specifically at you, but at the situation, and remember that the purpose of the answer is not to argue with a person, but to remain worthy in the eyes of society. If everything is detailed in a negative review, there are fewer problems, because you just need to apologize and promise to sort out the situation. If the problem is described superficially, you can start asking additional questions right in the answer to solve the problem. This approach will allow you to quickly understand whether a negative review was written by a real person or if it was a trick of competitors. At the end, you should ask to stay in touch or inform that the person will be contacted soon, but in no case disappear and really help to understand the situation. 
  5. Expulsion from the TOP of search engine results of review sites containing negative reviews for certain queries, for example, "brand reviews", "brand reviews of employees".

Usually, the above tips are enough to maintain a positive company image and mitigate negative reviews. You can get more detailed advice on this and many other issues at any time from the A4 Law firm specialists.


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