Dealing With Negative Yelp Reviews


ftm-social-media2 business lawyer

You return home after a long day of truckin’ and errands.
You hop online, and visit Yelp to read the latest customer reviews.
And one review in particular hits you like a ton of bricks.
The customer completely blasts every morsel of your business, literally and figuratively.

What do you do?

A. Respond publicly on Yelp, and go toe-to-toe with the customer?
B. Contact Yelp because clearly this person has violated their user policies with their colorful language and jaded recount of doing business with you.
C. Ignore the review because you have to take the good with the bad.
D. Contact an attorney to handle this jerk on your behalf.

The answer is: It depends (I know you were looking for more, but keep reading). 

First, let me tell you that because of Freedom of Speech protections, the law is really customer-friendly when it comes to posting reviews about your company. However, if the customer lies about their experience in their review then you may be able to bring a suit for defamation. An attorney can review your situation and let you know if it’s worth moving forward with a lawsuit.

Yelp also will not remove reviews unless they violate their  Terms of Service or Content Guidelines. They also tend to be customer-friendly, but will remove reviews that are fake or defamatory, or doesn’t speak specifically to the customer’s experience (i.e. discusses political ideologies or employment practices).

So, what can you do when the irate customer blasts you and your biz, online?

You must a) deal with damage control and b) discern whether a customer’s statement was true or false. Also remember that the internet is a life-long paper trail. That means, what you say online, can and will be used against you in a court of law (if necessary).

Respond in the spirit of professionalism. Refrain from saying anything that may damage the customer’s reputation:

  • Step away for a few minutes. Think about the review that the customer has posted. Is there legitimacy to it?
  • Post a short response. At this point, you want to show them and your now, public audience that resolving customer issues are a priority for you. Do not post anything online that supports or denies their claim.
Here is sample language:

Thank you for your feedback. We greatly value you and will look into your concerns right away. Please give us a call so that we can discuss and determine the best way to proceed. Our priority is to make sure that you are 100% satisfied. We look forward to making that happen.

Notice, that I simply acknowledged the customer’s feelings. At this point, I may or may not know whether there was a mistake on my end, because I haven’t had time to look into it.

Steer the conversation away from social media or online forums.Some social media and marketing pros recommend keeping the conversation online to showcase how you handled the situation. Remember, I am looking at it from a legal perspective.

Lastly, if the drama continues, you should contact an attorney to counsel you. Whatever you do, don’t engage in a tweet-facebook-yelp battle with the other person.

How have you dealt with customers airing the dirty laundry online?

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