No business likes to see a bad review about its products or services posted online. Some go so far as to attempt to hire us to “fix it”. When we tell the business owner that we cannot remove the post, but that we can help the business generate the needed “good” reviews to outweigh the bad one, the response is often confusion.
“What good will that do? The nasty comment is still there for everyone to see” said one potential client who, rather than opting for our approach, instead sought the services of lawyers a few days later. Six months and about $10,000 later (not to mention the stress he endured), the post still lives. Ah, if only he would have seen the negative comment as a forced opportunity.
My last comment before he left my office that day was simple. I told him that you cannot remove negative comments, but you can make negative comments work for you. All you have to do is show future customers how much you care for every customer, even those who complain, by engaging in the conversation and offering practical solutions. This works in every situation, except one: when the negative poster is looking more for revenge than a solution. In that case, you show future customers how insane the writer is by professionally and sincerely offering every solution you can think of, while allowing the negative poster to either ignore your help (which looks bad for the other person) or complain repeatedly while ignoring your solutions (usually with bad spelling and grammar).
Now our strategy has the court’s backing. Several months ago, a Contractor succeeded in getting a lower court to issue an order to remove a negative post about his work and his company, claiming that the writer’s accusation that someone from his company stole jewelry was defamatory and harmful to his business. But in a decision handed down today in Virginia, their Supreme Court ruled that negative Yelp and Angie’s List reviews about the Contractor’s work must be allowed to stay online while the Contractor’s defamation suit goes through the legal system. According to the defense attorney, Paul Alan Levy, the decision means “members of the public will be able to review Jane Perez’s criticism and Dietz’s responses, and make up their own minds.”
Mr. Levy’s comment isn’t exactly true, since this whole argument has reached so many people that Yelp had to curb it. But it’s also not one-sided anymore. The Contractor, Christopher Dietz, has a Yelp page now with a few good reviews and two bad ones. There are 65 reviews that have been blocked by Yelp, with most coming from far away states. I’m sure these people weren’t customers. Instead they were looking to bash a man who put his company (and likely his ego) ahead of his customers. Nobody likes that — especially when it shows up in the social media world.
The point? You cannot remove negative posts, and it’s not even worth trying. They may hurt, but we all know some people are crazy, and extremely hard to please. Instead, play the game fairly. Answer the negative posts, professionally, knowing that those who are reading it are thinking about being your customer. See it as an opportunity to show the general public (who is, for the most part, very fair) that you are fair. Get your satisfied customers to write their own glowing, honest, reviews.
All of this will help your business in the face of negativity. And it will certainly soothe your ego.