It feels so good to let loose sometimes, but beyond that it may do no good
We are hardwired to seek vengeance, to demand an even playing field
Like it or not, no one can escape this fact. Just like you cant help but look when passing a car accident, biologically this imperative has served its purpose throughout history. Does this mean that is necessarily a good thing? Absolutely not. If we blindly follow our urges we are lead down a dark path indeed. But, we have all experienced this overwhelming urge before, and satisfying it can feel damn good. With the instant gratification that the internet is able to provide, it is sometimes just impossible to resist. With a few cleverly crafted words and the click of a button, you are now able to tell the whole world exactly what you are thinking. Never before have we been able to exert so much influence with so little effort. But, with great power comes great responsibility. Or at least it should.
Understanding then true consequences of your actions
Some people deserve everything that they have coming to them, and then some. Most of the time though, we end up acting hastily out of anger only to regret our embarrassing behavior later. Posting online allows you to remain anonymous and we therefore are more inclined to act in ways that we would normally abhor. Then, after the dirty deed has been done, we can simply ignore it as if it was someone else that did it. It was probably that silly teddy bear emoticon that you picked, seems like something he would do. On the other side of the screen, some business has a giant black market against it and is left without much that they can do. Yes, they can respond, and even explain themselves most of the time. But, no matter how well written the response, it always seems as if the company is trying to defend itself, which can make the situation even worse. It is amazing to believe, but a single review can make or break a customers buying decision. All it takes is the ranting of one disgruntled person and it can cost a business thousands upon thousands of dollars, it can cost people their jobs.
Walking on eggshells is no way to live
But the question is then, what to do here? It is inevitable that you will experience such a situation if you do enough business, no matter how well you treat your customers. People make mistakes, and you can not always make everyone happy. Accepting that fact, it is important to immediately implement a strategy that will help to get your satisfied customers to leave positive reviews. This is a lot harder then it seems, an angry customer is much more likely to find the motivation that they need to accomplish this task. A lot of these websites make you jump through hoops to even register, and without that white hot rage pushing you on, it is easy to loose focus. Explain to your customers how important this process is to you and then try to make it as easy as possible for them to complete it. This includes sending out automatic emails with links to the sites that you want them to post on, or even implementing incentive programs. If you create a constant stream of positive reviews, it will outweigh any negative statements and make them look like the frivolous comments that they most likely are. But, if you only have 3 total reviews, 1 bad one will make a world of difference for your company.
Confront the situation in a mature fashion
Do not get angry and respond to the complaint publicly. In fact, take a full day before you even react. From there, always attempt to contact the customer personally before posting online. Never invalidate their feelings, always let them know that you completely understand how they feel and simply want to resolve the issue. For this to work, you must be sincere. Right or wrong is irrelevant here, other people are entitled to feel the way that they feel whether or not we agree with it. Be the bigger person and try to be as understanding as possible. Find a resolution that is quick and effective, do not even worry about the monetary value because it will come across as petty. If you are able to come to some sort of understanding, it is not out of line to firmly ask them to immediately remove their review.
Dealing with the unreasonable folks
To wrap it up, we have saved the worst for last. There are people out there that are just crazy, you can not reason with them no matter what you do. Without getting philosophical or religious about this quandary, you need to protect yourself when your business is under attack. Making false statements about your company and posting them online is illegal for a customer to do. That being said, you will need to take them to court and prove that they are lying; hard to do when they can simply say that it is their opinion and nothing more. But, if you are ready to take this step and spend whatever legal fees necessary to defend your reputation, people can generally sense your resolve. If all else fails, and reason is getting you no where, you need to have your attorney draft up a letter threatening a lawsuit. If the harassment still does not stop, you need to take them to court. It will cost a lot of money, and the outcome is never guaranteed. But it is important to have a strong conviction and to stand up for what you believe in. If you constantly let people push your around, then you will not be in business long. Unfortunately, more often then not it seems, businesses areoften the ones taking advantage of the customer. Many times, the negative reviews are quite deserving. But, that is a topic for another article altogether.