Has your business fallen victim to a sketchy consumer review website? Perhaps you have a former disgruntled former employee intent on harming your reputation, or a customer posts a bad review after an unpleasant experience. The internet is quick to judge and negative information can travel faster than you can chase it. There are a number of forums online today which allow user to post unverified reviews and opinions about businesses and their employees.
Forums like Pissed Consumer are a prime example of how this supposed honesty based business model can be used for malicious purposes. While some issues presented by users are certainly legitimate, others abuse the system to attack people personally or vent their frustrations with a product or service without legitimate reasons. For example, one review on Pissed Consumer describes a fans displeasure with a Fallout video game installment. The user describes general displeasure with the game and claims the developer ripped him off as a result. Not every improper post is transparent however, and before you know it your business can see a bad review turn into a PR nightmare.
This forum and others like it do not verify posts. They protect themselves with a disclaimer separating them from the views and opinions of their users and hide behind freedom of speech laws. In most cases, the only way to have content removed by the site administrator is with a court order, which can be a lengthy and expensive endeavour. Here are some ways to take action and protect against such a situation, and what you should do if it does occur.
Ensure you have a solid online presence so you can respond to legitimate complaints from your client-base and help the online community distinguish between illegitimate concerns.
Creating an open and engaged online presence can make or break businesses in today’s digitally driven markets as it is. Create a well planned website and include as much information about your company as possible while making it accessible and simple to use. When it comes to negative reviews or media attention, be quick to respond to it with facts and company policies geared to either alleviate legitimate concerns or discredit an intentional attack.
Engage with your satisfied customer base to continue to show how you see your business in the community.
Stay engaged beyond responding to complaints or concerns by thanking your customers for their positive comments. Offer deals and incentives to encourage your customers to share their experiences through reviews or social media.
The internet has given the world a voice and facing the possibility of bad reviews is a reality to any business today. Taking affirmative action and proactively protecting your company’s online reputation may just be the best decision you can make.