Some of the news coming out lately has a “you just can’t believe this is news” ring to it. Here’s the latest – a NYC watchmaker is suing some of the people who have written negative reviews about him on Yelp. This has caused a backlash which includes several one star reviews on his Yelp page.
There’s another article that talks about wedding photographers putting language in their contract that forbids negative reviews on public review sites. People even write letters to the editor asking legal advice on how and when to sue. Fortunately, this response ended with some pretty reasonable advice (e.g. don’t sue!)
The journalistic hype of lawsuits around review sites will jump the shark in the very near future. This is sensationalism at its best, with very little in reality to back it up. The main problems (and suggested solutions) that are causing these uproars are laid out below.
1. Business Owners are frightened by something they don’t understand. I give and accept advice from my friends all the time on places to shop or professionals to use. During these discussions, businesses are praised and trashed without the Business Owner even knowing. Likely because the business owner has no idea this is going on, they are not worried about this type of communication. With the Internet, people get a “public” forum for sharing their views – this scares the business owner, because human nature dictates that anything new is viewed as having the worst possible impact to our lives. A business owner looks at this and determines that every possible customer in their universe will read this one poor review and make a decision not to frequent their business. This is highly unlikely. In fact, it’s much more likely that the 1-1 conversations that this disgruntled customer is having with their friends is having a much bigger impact on potential business.
2. Review sites can easily turn into unmoderated message boards. It is highly ironic that Yelp isn’t filtering out many of the reviews for the watch owner in NYC. I do not agree at all with the tactics of the watch owner – he’s being ridiculous. But there are now several 1 star reviews of this watch owner by people who specifically say in their comments “I have not used this person, but I would NEVER shop there based on his actions”. In what way should this type of review be used to calculate a business rating? If Yelp really does have this sophisticated algorithm to determine whether reviews are legitimate or not, why aren’t these reviews filtered? It seems that Yelp and sites like it are really nothing more than a relatively unmoderated message board. I’m not clear how this is really helping the consumers OR the business owner.
Business Owners – if you really do care about customer feedback and satisfying your customers, be ready for three universal truths, regardless of the channel you are using for feedback:
- All types of feedback are important. You want to hear from customers who are thrilled by you as well as people who are not.
- Your current customers tell their friends about you. You should want to know what they are saying.
- The way you respond to your customers feedback will have the greatest impact on attracting new business
Here at Bizyhood, we can help you do these things online – if you are new, afraid, or unsure of how to do this, reach out to us and we’ll show you the way.