Three Classy Ways to Prevent Negative Online Reviews from Ruining Your Reputation

3 Classy Ways to Prevent Negative Online Reviews From Ruining Your Reputation

Three Classy Ways to Prevent Negative Online Reviews from Ruining Your Reputation

By Erika Madden | Featured Contributor

Quick: how do you protect your reputation when people leave negative online reviews about your business?

  1. Delete the reviews…if I can
  2. Do nothing and just hope for the best
  3. Fine, threaten, or sue!

If these choices sound like bad news, you’re right. When it comes to shoring up your online reputation despite complaints and stinging reviews, the very last thing you want to do is send the message that you’re hiding from, ignoring, or outright bullying your customers.

(Talk about a real PR nightmare in the making!)

To prevent negative online reviews from doing significant damage to your good name, you’ll need a classier strategy. Here are 3 steps to take to help your business thrive despite the criticism that comes your way:

1. Take Customer Care Seriously

When it comes down to it, you have the ultimate power over your reputation. If you want to send the message that you’re a business of integrity, you’ll first need to make sure that you’re earning that reputation by actually treating your unhappy customers with professionalism.

Are you responding to negative comments quickly (ideally within two hours)? Are you offering a sincere apology for their experience? Are you politely addressing their complaints in a way that will fix their problem — or at least compensate for their trouble?

Remember, the public is watching these interactions. The way you conduct yourself (NOT the negative review itself) will be the overriding factor in whether people form a positive or negative image of your business. Make sure you’re not self-sabotaging by reacting poorly.

2. Go Looking For Positive Reviews

Negative reviews can give people pause, but their threat to a business can be greatly neutralized if they exist in a larger sea of positive remarks. Have you ever shopped on Amazon? At least 80% of the time the products I buy have some scathing 1 and 2 star reviews, but in the end it matters little to me if there are dozens of others who give it 4 or 5 stars.

If you don’t already have a nice collection of positive reviews, unflattering comments will stick out like a sore thumb. To combat this, be proactive in asking your satisfied clients to review you on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or wherever your social media marketing efforts are most concentrated.

A word of caution: don’t be over-salesy, pushy, or offer bribes. A simple, “If you’re a fan of my business, I’d be honored if you left a review on my Facebook page!” is enough. If you’re making the ask online, make sure you provide direct links whenever you can — the easier you make it for people, the more successful you’ll be.

3. Get Blogging + PR Savvy

Bad online reviews can easily begin to control the narrative of your business if there’s little else out there telling your story and showcasing your strengths. As of last year only 1 in 8 businesses had an updated blog, which is a huge lost opportunity! Blogging is the ideal way for you to demonstrate your expertise, grow relationships, improve your search engine results, help people find solutions to their problems, and generally prove that there’s a real, engaging human face behind the business.

However, even if you’re regularly adding content to the web, it may not be enough to combat embarrassing reviews found on other blogs. To fight this, you’ll need to increase your favorable exposure through proven PR tactics like guest posting and media coverage.

Start getting your name out there through places like Connectively and by following these smart media pitch strategies (which easily apply to contacting bloggers as well).

What classy suggestions do you have for those dealing with negative online reviews? Share them in the comments!

[Image credit: Andy Morales CC 2.0 | Altered by Erika Madden]


Erika MaddenErika Madden is the irresistible super geek behind Olyvia, a digital marketing, reputation, and etiquette consulting company that helps women be delightful online. Between herding three feisty young children, running to the store for more Starbucks K-cups, and obsessively tweaking her website, she considers her success to be just short of miraculous.

You can be one of her favorite people by sending her Chipotle burritos (no beans! add guac!), spoiling her with a long Italian vacay, or just befriending her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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4 Replies to “3 Classy Ways to Prevent Negative Online Reviews From Ruining Your Reputation”

  1. Danica Jones

    Great advice, Erika. Working with ConsumerAffairs as the Marketing Manager for our new Brands App, we utilize review collection to help “balance” the conversation out and prevent feedback friction from becoming the only thing the online audience sees in organic search results. We’ve seen this approach completely transform the way many consumers view brands and the companies we partner with have been able to increase their revenue and use the feedback to offer an even better customer experience by using the data to find issues and repair relationships. These tips are great for companies of any size. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Erika Madden[ Post Author ]

      That’s a smart approach, Danica. Too many companies see negative feedback and think it has to be eliminated. Truth be told, there’s an enormous value to negative reviews and complaints. If used as you described, they can help you improve your product, your advertising, your customer relationships, and so on.

      As Kristin Smaby said in Being Human is Good Business, “When customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points. They’re actually teaching you how to make your product, service, and business better. Your customer service organization should be designed to efficiently communicate those issues.”

  2. Johnny Mustard


    Great advice. I recently received a ton of negative reviews on Amazon that had nothing really to do with my product – they were the result of a mean-spirited YouTube video. Since I wasn’t dealing with unhappy customers (none of them had bought my product), and I didn’t really want to address their malicious remarks directly, I decided to embrace the fact that my product wasn’t for everybody in a humorous and self-deprecating way.

    I’ll let you know how this tactic it works out!


    1. Erika Madden[ Post Author ]

      Humor is such an excellent way to disarm critics and give your online image a boost; thank you for sharing your approach. You’re absolutely right: not every product is for everybody — in those cases, the best thing to do is stay out of the fray and handle it with a smile!

      Good luck!

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