How can businesses handle negative Google reviews?

Following a court ruling about a negative Google review, there are a number of steps businesses take to handle negative Google reviews (and encourage positive reviews), according to UNSW Business School's Associate Professor Rob Nicholls

So, in the case, Justice Murphy found that two things had occurred. Firstly, that the review itself could be defamatory, it was a good probability it would be defamatory. Secondly, that Google almost certainly knew the identity of enough information to allow the dentist to take an action for defamation. 

So I think one of the impacts of this case is that Google is now on notice that it's possible for an individual who's been defamed, to seek action to get the identity of the person who's allegedly made the defamatory comments in an anonymous review. 

But overall, I think it just changes the way that Google has to do business. It has to think about anonymous reviews, where they may cause some risk. 

So an anonymous review of an individual creates a risk of potential defamation. An anonymous review of BHP certainly does not. 

You also have to recognise as a reviewer or as a business, that anonymity is only in that post. Google probably knows who you are, Facebook almost certainly knows who you are. And therefore something that you say which is either criminal, or defamatory, may well lead your post being identified and somebody coming after you. 

The best way of dealing with bad reviews is to have lots of good reviews. So encouraging your customers to give good reviews and potentially to have a verified customer approach to your reviews, so when you know that customer actually went to your site in the same way that on Amazon, a verified purchaser review carries more weight than just a review, if you do the same thing on your website or with Google or with any other social media platform that will help.

That's easier said than done. Persuading customers to go off and write a review is problematic because they've just enjoyed whatever goods or services you've sold them and may not think about such things, but that's the easiest way to balance up a series of bad reviews.


You are free to republish this article both online and in print. We ask that you follow some simple guidelines.

Please do not edit the piece, ensure that you attribute the author, their institute, and mention that the article was originally published on Business Think.

By copying the HTML below, you will be adhering to all our guidelines.

Press Ctrl-C to copy