When was the last time you booked a hotel or made a reservation at a new restaurant without first checking the online reviews? We live in a digital world and people are increasingly engaging with online reviews to influence their decision-making.

Social media, Google and other review sites provide a fantastic marketing platform for customers to acknowledge a quality experience and share this with others. That said, even the cream of the crop in the business world receive the occasional online criticism. So, what happens if you encounter a negative review, or worse yet… a fake one?

A disgruntled ex-employee or jealous competitor may use an alias to make false and defamatory accusations about your business, or you may come across an online troll who deliberately seeks to provoke others.

Here are some tips to help you better navigate the world of undesirable and / or phoney online reviews.

Unfortunately, one of the disadvantages of digital is that the option to ‘delete’ is not always guaranteed. It is dependent on the host site, however, most platforms (i.e. Facebook and Google) will provide an opportunity for businesses to report any unsavoury reviews.

The downside of this is that such reviews are usually only removed if they fail to comply with the guidelines specific to the business, or if the reviewer demonstrates a clear conflict of interest.

In the instance that a negative review about your business does not get removed, it is important to respond publicly and promptly (within 24 hours). If customers see you only respond to positive comments and ignore any negative ones, they may assume it is accurate.

Draft a well-thought-out response that addresses the key points in a polite manner and does not appear defensive or suggest any accusations.

Always highlight your focus on customer service by encouraging the reviewer to contact the business directly to rectify the issue at hand. For example, “we pride ourselves on delivering high-quality service to all customers and I am sorry to hear that your experience did not meet these expectations. I would appreciate if you would take the time to contact me directly as I am sure we can resolve this issue”.

If the claim is in fact false, consider addressing the situation by politely raising a question. For example, “we always appreciate when customers take the time to post reviews. However, I believe there may be some confusion as we have no record of your reservation, could you have us confused with another business? If it was certainly us, we would love the opportunity to make things better. I encourage you to contact me directly on….”.

It is important to remember that one bad or misleading review can be harmful to a business when it is the only one. That is why is it is vital to continuously seek reviews from your customers as a stack of rave reviews will instantly squash the credibility of one negative review.

Source: Reputation Stacker