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How to deal with negative online reviews? by Certified Digital Marketing Agency, Absolute Digital

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

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By Absolute Digital

Online reviews are a double-edged sword... on one hand, it can enhance your brand's credibility online, especially with first-time customers. However, on the other, it opens you up to the possibility of hate reviews targetted by specific individuals or competitors. The latter has become so common that it is now a norm when you put your business online. As much as this is unavoidable, we would like to share some best practices on how to deal with negative online reviews...

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These numbers show just how much an online review affect the consumer's buying decision. The fear of having a negative review often deters business owners to avoid being present online. However, this means that they are losing a huge portion of the growing market share that is online today! With these tips, we hope to show how you can deal with negative online reviews professionally.

Here are 6 simple steps you can do when you receive a negative online review for your business:

1. Address the review promptly

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Having a bad review is unavoidable, but you can manage these review with the appropriate response as the business owner. The key is to respond quickly and professionally. The longer you wait to craft out a perfect response, the more people will see the negative review as the end of the story and form a judgement that your business is not credible.

Address the review quickly to show that your business is responsive and deal with the review professionally. It is important to avoid engaging with the reviewer and instead provide an avenue for them to leave feedback.

2. Provide an avenue for feedback

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Providing an avenue for them to feedback shows that you are willing to own up, investigate the perceived lapse in quality (or whatever the feedback was), and fix the issue. Here's a guide on how you can properly address an online review:

"Hi (name), thanks for leaving us a review. We regret to hear that your experience with our company was unpleasant. However, we could not find your name in our database of clients or ex-clients.

We will be happy to better understand your concerns if you could feedback to us in detail at this email address: (your email). Thanks"

Firstly, do not engage in a comment war (justifying or clarifying why you did, what you did) because it will spark more resistance from the already unhappy clients. Do not publicly address the issue before you get to the bottom of the matter. Secondly, since the review is public, your clients and potential clients may come across this review threat, and thus your reply. Handling the negative review is a way to show that you value your business's reputation and are willing to fix the issue (regardless of the review's authenticity).

Bad reviews are common ways unethical competitors or resent clients leave a dent in your digital presence. However, if the review is genuine, do treat it (and the person who left the review) with respect and find out how you can improve the business.

3. Remain professional and objective

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Many times, it is more of the way you respond rather than what your response is. Absolute Digital has over 50, 5-STAR Google Reviews from our clients. We are proud of our service and are not afraid to leave avenues for clients to write a review.

However, in the recent week, we have received targeted and malicious hate reviews NOT from any of our clients. Here's what happened...

Friday, 14th August 2020

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One of Absolute Digital's client, Mr Goh, left a bad review of an F&B outlet on Google after the owner was aggressive when he asked for the menu. Unhappy, Mr Goh left the premise and wrote a bad review on Google. However, the owner decided to track his profile and found that Mr Goh had a positive review for Absolute Digital, and decided to target us.

Saturday, 15th August 2020

We received our first 1-STAR Google Review from a new email account with a fictitious name seemingly created just to post this review. When responded within an hour, and provided our email for support, no email was received regarding this matter.

Sunday, 16th August 2020

The next day, we received yet another 1-STAR Google Review from a different new email account with a fictitious name seemingly created just to post this review. Yet again when responded within an hour, we provided our email for support, but no email feedback from the 'client' was received regarding this matter.

Although we have made a report on Google Reviews, Google is unlikely to take down this review.

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At this point, most business owners would panic and act irrationally. We strongly advise you to remain professional and objective. While all this was happening, Mr Goh got this Facebook Message:

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While Absolute Digital also received a message on our Business Number:

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When you put 2 and 2 together and finally piece the puzzle, you can logically come to the conclusion that the F&B owner attempted to seek revenge for his negative review by spamming Absolute Digital, right after he received one from Mr Goh.

Incidents like this are not unusual, but as a business owner, you have to accept the good and bad reviews. Pay compliments when due, but also look to improve your business when genuine feedback is received. In a case like this example, a malicious and targetted attempt by this individual will fade quickly when our genuine clients speak up for us.

Rather than trying to get back at him, or cover up our negative reviews, we decided to tackle it head-on with the truth. We strongly believe that digital marketing is the future of businesses and if done correctly, will attract the right audience for your business. There is no shame in bad reviews. If genuine, you can take this opportunity to improve. If malicious, handle it well and let the viewers decided what is true or not. Absolute Digital is committed to growing our client's digital presence with the experience and knowledge of digital marketing.

4. Report irrelevant reviews

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Although the likelihood of the negative review being taken down is unlikely, the way your business responds to it is within your control. If you follow the steps above when dealing with a negative online review, you have done your part as a responsible business owner.

Don't let these hate reviews deter you from having a digital presence to reach out to the hundreds or thousands of potential clients.

5. Move on

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A word of advice: Don't focus on things you cannot change. Instead, focus on what you and your business can improve on.

There are many possible reasons why someone would give your business a negative review. If your business:

  1. Has a lapse in quality (product or service)

  2. From your competitors

  3. From individuals with hidden agenda

The reason for them leaving a negative review is negligible (unless it's the first reason), however, how you deal with this negative online review is crucial in your business online brand reputation. An effective 'Crisis Management' Standard-Operation-Procedure (SOP) will help you manage and overcome situations like this. Traditionally, PR companies handle these type of situations for corporations, leaving small and medium businesses at a loss when they are faced with the same issues.

The good news is, professional digital marketing agencies like Absolute Digital has the experience in crisis management protocols. Our knowledge and expertise will handle any online crisis and create a stronger digital presence for your business, while you focus on growing your business.

6. Build a stronger online presence

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Once you have done the above 5 steps, it is time you focus on growing your digital presence. This will ensure future negative reviews will be diluted when genuine clients leave good reviews.

Aside from having a Google My Business profile where customers can leave a review, you can also improve your website, rank high on Google's SERP with Google SEO, or advertise on Google SEM, Google GDN, Facebook Advertising, and Instagram Marketing.

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Overall, although you cannot delete or remove a negative online review, it is important that you handle it well. To turn a negative into a positive doesn't require hiding or flooding with good 'fake' reviews. Proper digital crisis management is crucial when you need it.

If you would like to increase your digital presence, these articles might help! If you'd prefer to speak to one of our digital marketing strategists, you may call us at +65 8892 1290 or email us at

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