How Businesses Can Deal With Negative Reviews or Comments Found Online
If you own your own business, chances are someone has posted something negative about it online. To make matters worse, with hundreds of sites solely dedicated to customer reviews, it seems almost impossible to keep track of the comments that could impact your business’s’ reputation.
I have assisted several small businesses with managing their company’s reputation and have seen firsthand the damaging effects of allowing negative ratings and reviews to go unchecked. Bad ratings on sites such as BBB.com (Better Business Bureau) or Yelp can truly make or break a business in today’s information age. People are all too willing to publicize their dissatisfaction with a company online since doing so can be done from the privacy of home and without any consequences. As such, business owners should take a more proactive approach to dealing with online complaints. The following is a list of things you can do to handle negative ratings and comments posted about your business online. It does in no way constitute legal advice and is meant solely for educational purposes.
The only way to know what customers are saying about your business online is to get involved. Join social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and regularly monitor the comments posted by users that refer to your company. You should also regularly check your company ratings on sites such as BBB.com (Better Business Bureau), Yelp, Angie’s List, or Ratingz.com. There are also ratings sites that deal only with specific industries. For example, lawyer ratings can be found on Avvo.com while doctor ratings can be found on Ratemds.com. Almost every industry has a ratings site dedicated solely to that particular industry. If you do a quick Google search you will find that there are probably several sites which provide ratings to business in your field of work.
If a customer has made a valid complaint than you should probably do some damage control. You may consider contacting the customer to try to resolve their problem or at the very least, apologize for any wrongdoing. Don’t lose your cool and try to remember that the customer is always right (even though they aren’t). It is important to note that unlike most other ratings sites, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) requires businesses to respond to all BBB complaints and failure to do so will result in a lower rating.
An easier approach is to simply encourage happy clients to post positive comments. In this way, the positive comments outweigh the negative ones. This is your best bet when dealing with totally false comments. Lashing out in a war of words online is last thing you want to do and only adds fuel to the fire. You may want to sue for defamation but you probably won’t win and the case will draw even more unwanted attention. For example, in 2009, Horizon Realty sued a tenant for $50,000 who tweeted “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks its okay.” The case was ultimately dismissed but not before it gained national publicity and caused more damage to Horizon’s reputation than the tweet itself.
The main lessons here are to get involved with social media and research your company’s online presence by visiting sites that allows users to rate or comment on businesses, even popular blogs. Diplomatically respond to valid complaints by either apologizing for any wrongdoing or expressing regret for the customer dissatisfaction. False comments should be ignored and counteracted with more positive comments. Encourage people to leave good reviews of your business so your overall ratings aren’t affected. Regularly monitor your ratings with the BBB and ALWAYS respond to complaints found on their site. If you don’t respond to BBB complaints your rating will go down, even if you are not a BBB member.
The information in this article is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, comments, answers, or other communications should be taken as legal advice. The information provided is not intended to create, and viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
© 2012 Bahin Ameri