Online reviews are the new “word of mouth.” For years businesses relied on happy customers to relay their satisfaction to friends and family—aka, potential new customers—via word of mouth. But in today’s mobile world, word of mouth has been effectively replaced with online reviews.

With easy access to the Internet, consumers have changed the way they shop for pretty much every product or service available. Rarely does anyone make a purchase without looking up reviews online. It’s simply part of the decision-making process now, and it can be argued that reviews are now the most important part of the process.

According to Trustpilot, 9 out of 10 customers read online reviews before buying a product. But customers don’t just want to see the positive reviews, they want to read both the good and bad. In fact, 62% of consumers refuse to buy from brands that censor reviews. Authenticity and transparency are important to consumers and reviews tell a lot about a business.

We know positive online reviews can have a powerful impact on your business. But let’s face it, not every review you get will be positive. How you deal with fake or negative reviews can be nearly as impactful to potential customers as your positive reviews are.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to help deal with fake or negative reviews. Let’s focus first on negative reviews

  • Take a Deep Breath – As a business owner, you are deeply vested in the image of your business. It can be infuriating to read a fake or negative review, and your instant reaction is usually to respond right away. However, that’s not always in your best interest. Pause for a moment and fully process what the consumer wrote. Try to figure out why they left the bad response, and if there is anything you can do to regain their confidence. Calmly put a plan together before you respond.


  • Respond in a Timely Manner – While it’s important to take a deep breath so you are not responding emotionally, it’s equally important to respond in a timely manner. In today’s instant-reaction world, customers expect to hear back within 24 hours. It is important to deal with negative reviews promptly before they escalate and more potential customers read the review.


  • Respond Positively, Politely, and Professionally – when responding, be brief, be pleasant and be empathetic. Reviewers often just want to be heard. If you show them that you listened to their complaint, and are considering how to resolve the issue, that can go a long way to easing their concerns. Don’t personally react to the review. Rather, respond in a polite, professional manner.


  • Fix the Problem – Unfortunately, sometimes the negative reviews are left because the product or service didn’t actually live up to the standards expected. Always try to contact the reviewer personally and address their review offline. Work to solve the problem with more than just a response back online. Efforts to resolve the problem show not only the customer but other potential customers, that you stand behind your product or service and want to provide the best possible consumer experience.


  • Ask for Another Shot – If you’ve taken steps to fix the problem, it’s fine to request the reviewer to update their original review (or even asking them to remove the review). Try reaching out to them via email and summarize the original issue, how you resolved it, and/or what steps have been taken to ensure things will improve moving forward. Then politely ask if they would mind updating their review.


  • Get More Positive Reviews – Always ask your happy customers to post positive reviews for your business. Since reviews are typically posted chronologically, the new positive reviews will push the negative review down further in the results. Most consumers only read a handful of reviews before making a decision, the further the negative review is down the list, the better.

How to hand a fake review:

  • Try to Remove A Fake Review – Getting a fake review taken down before anyone sees it will obviously be the most beneficial for your business. There’s no guarantee you can have the review removed, but depending on the site, you can at least request that it be reviewed. Know going into it, you will have to prove the review is fake so they will remove the post.


  • Post a Response – It may seem strange to respond to a knowingly fake review, but remember future shoppers don’t know the review is fake. All they will see is the review and your response. So be sure to post a response. Even something as generic as “We will contact you offline to discuss this situation” shows your commitment to customer service.

Don’t think you have the time to manage your online reviews? With Vivial’s Social Media Management program we can take the responsibility off your plate. Our team of dedicated Social Media Managers work with your business to create a review strategy, including appropriate responses, that match your customer service philosophy.