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I work with a TV nearby all the time.  When normal network news is on, or almost any news program is on, I’m watching or using it as background noise. So this morning, when I happened to look over, I saw something that caught my eye.  It was the middle of a story about a couple getting sued for leaving disparaging remarks on a company’s online review page.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/yelp-negative-online-review-texas-couple-sued-jeremy-stoppelman/

“YES!”  You could hear me whooping and hollering a mile away. “It’s about time!  FINALLY!  The insanity will stop!” Being all about internet, marketing and that side of the fence, what I thought I saw wasn’t what the story was really covering though. Let me explain.

So, why was I SO excited about the clip on TV?

happy local customer

Whatever your business – MAKE that customer happy!

In a nutshell, if this diatribe starts getting too long for you, because online reviews, review websites, bogus reviews et al have been the Wild West for too long. On both sides. Companies being completely trampled and abused by self-serving  “reviewers” with ulterior motives on the one hand. On the OTHER hand, as in the case of the story on CBS, customers trampled by companies that put a load of fine print in their sales/service contracts forbidding consumers from telling the truth about the crappy service they got. BOTH cases have far too many victims it appears. I, however, am more familiar with the former.

Being a full-time web guy, I immediately thought that FINALLY a company had gone after a consumer who went on an unjustified, idiotic rant about a service or product.  An idiotic JUSTIFIED rant is one thing, but not idiotic and UNJUSTIFIED. If it took an hour to get your beer from a place and you share that the service is slow, that’s justified. Where it’s NOT justified – you came through the door drunk, started wolf-whistling the waitress across the room, fell off the barstool before the disgusted waitress even got TO you to tell you that you would NOT be served, and generally made an *ss of yourself until you were thrown out. On reflection later, or even that night, you then go online to share how horrible the restaurant is, they wouldn’t serve you, they were rude, threw your card back at you, threw you out all the while you were being an absolute delight (in your version of the story of course) – that one’s on YOU jack. You’re not justified. And THAT’S the part that VERY frequently gets left off these ranting reviews.

I believe that the day that some company gets ultimately fed up with abusive reviews and goes after somebody as an example IS coming.

Alternatively, fine print, as mentioned in the CBS story, is complete malarkey as well. Hiding some fine print designed to NOT allow people to say what a horrible job was done just goes against everything we as Americans stand for. Unprofessional behavior, poor product, service? While I see more situations like the above where the company gets unjustly hosed and trashed, I’m thinking a gag order on all customers is not anywhere NEAR close to being a proper or fair solution. I’m not actually sure it’s really even legal if it were to be challenged in a court of law. This makes me a little suspicious when I see an established company with no reviews online – or with nothing but good reviews.  Seldom do I expect to see a 100% 5 star reviews or whatever scale is used on the site in question.  Looks just a little suspect.

I have NO doubt this fine print practice will be halted in very short order. I reached out to the AG office here in North Carolina to see if we DID have anything in the works on this.  Will post any response I get here.

Encourage your visitors and clients to leave reviews

business-customer-raleighIt’s a good thing to work on your local reviews from customers.  It gives people not only a good feel for the kind of and quality of services that you provide, but also helps work a lot of new words into your profiles.  In addition to other words being used, it’s generally free content. One of the big things any company can do to help their site or page along is to have solid content – and lots of it.  Anything that a customer adds is something that you get sort of “free.”

Obviously, the idea here would be to make SURE that what they writeis going to be favorable for you.  Provide top quality, listen to your customers, read your reviews and take them to heart. Don’t just see the good ones and ignore any bad ones that come up. Even a BAD review can be helpful if handled well. Going into your own screaming tirade with all caps and pointing out what a horrible customer the critic is will NOT be the way to bring new customers to you.  Showing that you hear your customers, are making genuine improvements in response to suggestions – that can go a LONG way towards showing potential customers that you are forward-thinking and interested in bringing the best to your customers.

Wrapping it up

Don’t be your own worst enemy. Do a good job. Expect people to treat your fairly on reviews. I suspect at least one will surprise you with a review you didn’t expect. Take it in stride. It’s not the end of the world. Just work that much harder on getting more good ones to make sure people KNOW that one bad one you have is NOT representative of the service that you provide.

Not sure how to best handle any of this? Need help on your social or getting your accounts setup to handle reviews? Need solid SEO advice? Need overall internet marketing help? Contact us to find out how Lizardwebs can help you!