Let’s face it, online reviews of your business by its customers are part and parcel of running a business in the digital age. Many of us check online reviews of businesses, especially restaurants or personal services firms like hair salons, before we try them out. A negative review can affect whether a consumer will seek your services or shop for a product in your retail establishment.
If you search deeply, you may even acknowledge that you have written a review or two – publicly or anonymously. Sometimes the prompt to write a review is triggered by an incentive – a coupon for your next purchase or a negative experience – because the business did not satisfy the customers’ complaint to their liking, they reiterate it, in writing, forever on sites like Yelp or Google.
Address the Review Professionally
Online complaints should be addressed the same way as a physical complaint. Acknowledge the issue and seek a resolution to the problem in a manner that will satisfy the customer. Once the issue is resolved, encourage the customer to revise their statement and update their post with the resolution. If the customer will not update their post, reply online with what your solution is.
Keep in mind that the only way to get rid of a negative posting is to push it down from the screen. The more people that post an experience, the lower in ranking or order the negative post will appear. You are uniform in responding to posts, whether they are negative or positive, a potential customer will understand your business welcomes all comments from its customers.
Identify Fake Reviews
A business does not have to sit idle as people post online reviews that damage their business or their business’ reputation. Companies routinely sue online reviewers for defamation or libel and win. While it is true that most online reviews are protected under the free speech clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, all bets are off if the posting contains factually incorrect statements. A false statement of fact that hurts your business is not protected by the right to free speech.
Can You Sue Yelp?
There is a law on the books that limits the ability of a business to sue review sites like Yelp or Google. The U.S. Communications Decency Act would only hold Yelp or Google responsible for online comments of its users or third parties if they alter the original post. If the website publishes the post as the commentator wrote it, they are immune from a libel or defamation suit. The business can only go after the online reviewer.
Protect your reputation online. Consider using the power of legal services with cease and desist removal requests, through filing a lawsuit to force removal of false and misleading statements. The defamation and libel attorneys at JGPC can help your business fight back.
If your business has been injured, in profits or reputation, because of the online publication of false factual statements, you may be able to sue the reviewer for defamation.
JGPC law helps businesses defend their reputation by pushing back against online trolls in court. We serve clients in Fremont, Hayward, Oakland, Tracy, Manteca, and San Ramon from our Pleasanton and Livermore California offices. Visit us online to request an appointment today or call us at (925) 463-9600.