News flash… everyone is on the internet. Even people without access to running water. And most people check internet resources, like reviews and whitelists, before they go to a restaurant, purchase a product, or purchase a service. That’s why it’s crucial that you fight to maintain a high rating on sites like Yelp or Amazon. Let’s be honest, the only thing that keeps me going to El Taco instead of El Taquito with identical menu and prices is the one negative customer service review for El Taquito. I don’t take chances when it comes to my tacos.
But suppose that something goes awry and your business does get a negative review. What can you do if anything?
Unfortunately, there aren’t many options. Three to be exact.
Option A and Option B are ideal but very unrealistic. Option A would be to directly contact the person who wrote the bad review and ask them to take it down. Anyone who has an ex-girlfriend will know that it’s hard to get upset people to retract comments. Option B would be to ask Amazon, Yelp, whatever site, to take it down. They pride themselves on having transparent comments, so this is probably not going to happen.
Option C is by far the best route to take as it is the most likely to be effective. Option C would be to reply publicly to the negative comment. This public reply would include your sincerest apologies to whoever wrote the bad review and a quick note either about how you have already addressed the problem or how you plan to address the problem. Hopefully, this will encourage the person who you’ve offended to use your business again and revise their review. If not, it will at least show future customers that you respond to feedback and thank their opinions for consideration.
All this to say, your rating on one of these websites is an average, meaning that the more positive reviews you have, the less likely a negative review can hurt your score. So you should be trying to garner positive reviews no matter what as a buffer.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.