Reputation Defender: How Singapore Businesses Can Protect Themselves From Bad Reviews

Protect your Business from Bad Reviews

Before making a final buying decision, one of the first things customers search for is customer reviews. In fact, studies have found that customers usually rely heavily on the thoughts and opinions of others when making a purchase. The good news is that when it comes to review sites, there is only a small percentage of reviews that are negative.


However, this small percent can have a huge impact on the success of your brand. And that means that if you want your digital marketing to be a success, you need to be very careful about how you choose to handle them. Below are a few tips for protecting your Singapore business from bad reviews.  


Remain calm and keep a cool head


When someone speaks negatively about your business, it can be very offensive. In fact, many business owners become angry and upset upon reading a negative review. However, it’s very important that you remain calm in this instance. Never respond before you have fully had a chance to cool down and assess the situation.

Determine if it’s worth a response


Believe it or not, not all negative reviews are worth responding to. In fact, there are certain reviews that aren’t even worth giving a second thought. For example, you may notice that a review has been posted by someone who seems irrational or is using the language of someone who frequently complains about services that they are provided.  In this case, you are better off ignoring this review. There may also be times in which a review has been posted on an unknown blog. Their opinion may be unfair, but it’s still not worth a response.

Instead of focusing on reviews that come across as irate and unreasonable, try focusing on people who have legitimate concerns. Put your time towards the customers who seem genuine customers. This is especially the case if the customer is high-profile customers or their review appears on a popular site.

Follow the website rules


Before responding to a review, make sure that you read over the website usage terms and rules. There are many sites that expressly forbid profanity, breaches of privacy, and personal attacks. However, there are a few rules that may not be so common or obvious. For instance, certain sites forbid the use of all caps, advertising, and links in your responses.

Request that inappropriate or false reviews be removed

There are certain times in which a review is malicious or completely false. There may even be some that break the rules of the website. In this case, it’s a good idea to get in touch with the website administrators and ask that these reviews be removed. Just keep in mind that the site may not agree with this particular assessment, or even if they do agree with you they may be slow to act.

Do some research

If a review seems valid, you need to do a little more investigation. Get your staff’s side of the story and communicate with the reviewer to get more details. Most review sites feature a messaging feature. If they don’t have a messaging feature or you are not an official member of the site, then post a public message asking that review to get in touch with you so that you can discuss that matter further. If the comment was made public on Twitter, a blog, or a Facebook page, then address it publicly, asking the commenter to get in touch with you.

Empathise with the customer


You may not always agree with what the customer says, but you need to do your best to understand them. Let’s say that you own an automotive repair shop and your phones have not been functioning properly lately. If a customer has been calling for over a week but has not been able to get anyone to answer their call regarding their vehicle, then it’s very likely they’ll leave a bad review. If you want this matter to end well, you need to think about how they must feel.


Respond privately

While it’s sometimes a good idea to publicly ask the reviewer to get in touch with you privately, you could also simply contact them privately. Use the messaging system to send them a short response. Start by introducing yourself. Let them know that you appreciate their business as well as the feedback that they have provided. Offer an apology for their unsatisfactory experience. You should then give an outline of their concerns. This does not mean that you have to admit any wrongdoing.

You can then take the time to ask them if they could offer more details about the situation. You can also offer to resolve their concern. In certain situations, the remedy may simply be making a small tweak to your procedures. Perhaps your staff needs to call ahead to inform your customer that they are running late for their appointment.


In other situations, the remedy may be offering some sort of compensation. Perhaps you own a restaurant and would like to offer a free meal at the time of their next visit. Your response and offer will depend on the severity of the complaint.

Respond publicly

Even if you respond to the customer in private, it’s a good idea to respond publicly and let the audience know what you have done to resolve the issue. So, outline the steps you took to make sure that the customer was ultimately satisfied or compensated. Not only will your audience know that you respond to your comments, but going the extra mile will help to boost your reputation. And this is a great marketing strategy. Even if the customer never responds to your private message, you can still let the audience know that what you did to get in touch with the person.

Always be constructive and polite


A negative review can have a big impact on your business, but if you respond in a rude manner it can make matters even worse. And repairing your reputation can be very difficult when this happens. So when you respond to a negative review, make sure that you’re always polite and professional. Focus strictly on the issue and don’t result in personal attacks. This rule applies to both public and private conversations.

Learn from your mistakes


Negative reviews can be very valuable to your business because they help you to improve. They are often the best teachers even if they are completely unfair. Just keep in mind that your response can actually have a positive impact on your reputation and customers often read several reviews before making a final decision. By encouraging people to leave positive reviews you can really make a big difference.




A few negative reviews don’t have to be the end of your business. It’s not the mistake you make, but how you recover. And if you want your audience to view you in a positive light, there are several online advertising tips that you should keep in mind.


Remain calm. Figure out if the comment is worth responding to. Follow the rules of the review site. Have inappropriate or false comments removed. Research the issue. Empathise with the customer. Respond publicly and privately. Always be polite and courteous. Also, learn from your mistakes and then move on.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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