Business Sues Yelp Reviewer – And Wins Revised Review!

Did you hear about the contractor who sued the woman who left him a bad Yelp review?

Yikes! It’s getting messy out there with defamation claims coming up against free speech rights. And the courts are starting to weigh in. More on that below.

But first, what does all this mean for small and local businesses who are affected by online reviews?

How (and should) a local small business deal with negative or unfair reviews?

Should you just ignore all online reviews and let people talk? Does it ever make sense to respond to a negative review online?

Did you know there are ethical and legitimate ways to increase your amount of good reviews and even turn bad situations into positive reviews? We detail all the options here…

Local Small Business Implications For Review Sites

Local review sites like Yelp can be a boon, a bane or just part of the background of doing business in today’s online world.

Pages of glowing reviews can drive new customers excitedly in the door, but as the contractor who sued knows, too many bad reviews, or even one harsh accusatory one, can do serious damage.

Options To Deal with Bad Reviews Online

Suing a reviewer is obviously an extreme reaction. Here are some other options for dealing with online reviews:

Don’t Respond At All – Many business choose to just let all their online reviews stand. This isn’t a terrible approach because even responding to bad reviews can be tricky business. Even in the days before the internet – people talk, what are you gonna do? But even if you decide not to respond, at least do the following…

At Least Read Your Reviews – It’s easy to recall what you’re doing well and dismiss bad reviewers as a couple of “Negative Nelsons”. But too many negative online reviews can hurt your sales so it’s better to hear the bad news. It may turn out there are indeed issues of which you’ve been unaware. Once addressed, the bad reviews will fade into the past and be replaced with positive reviews. And if the reviewers note the positive changes (we’ve seen this a lot), previous and future customers can be assured the problems of the past have been corrected.

Answering Your Critics – If you do decide to reply to a negative review on the review site, it’s important not to blame or insult the customer. Don’t come across as defensive or sarcastic and don’t get dragged into hashing out online the details of their experience. Reviews are mostly read by customers and potential customers so they’re more likely to side with your disgruntled guest if it feels like an argument is taking place.

How To Address Negative Reviews Diplomatically – Never get into an argument or use sarcasm. State that you are truly sorry the customer had a bad experience, state that you take their concerns seriously, emphasize your commitment to quality and let everyone know that you or your staff are available and trained to address problems right away because your goal is to be sure everyone leaves a satisfied customer. This will make it easier for readers to empathize with a caring business owner and serve soften the impact of the negative review.

 

Of course this only works if there are only a few negative reviews. See our next step to learn how to build up a bank of good reviews to protect your average against the occasional complaint.

Ask For Reviews Proactively (More Below) – It’s better to build up a base of good reviews than to be caught off guard by excessive bad reviews later. Also, the fewer reviews you have in general, the more the bad ones will stick out. So stack the deck with good ones by encouraging the quiet, happy customers to speak up.

Turn Mistakes Into A Customer’s Feel-Good Story – Mistakes are going to happen, but when you’ve created an environment in which your staff knows that an unsatisfied customer experience is unacceptable, correcting mistakes can be a major opportunity.

A bad situation that gets correct creates a perfect little mini-drama. As long as the story has a happy ending, their journey from initial high hopes, to problem, to happy resolution creates the perfect anecdote for your customers to share online and with their friends.

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