When my husband I decided to start a business, we didn't think about the legal aspects of doing so. We didn't realize that purchasing business insurance, getting building permits and making investments all required some type of legal advice. But after speaking to a close friend, who also happens to own a small business, we contacted a business attorney. Now, we have the legal smarts to make the best decisions for our business, as well as the legal representation in case something happens to our company. I hope that you find my blog helpful and informative for your own business. It's a great resource for finding the legal advice, resources and guidance you need to get your company up and running.
If you own and operate a business that gets its customer base from the general public, such as a restaurant, hotel, coffee shop, retail store, pet grooming or boarding facility, or service and repair company, you're undoubtedly already aware of the existence of online review sites where customers record their experiences with specific businesses and rate them from poor to excellent. Like many business owners, you may be unsure of how to leverage these online reviews to your advantage, and you may also be concerned that unfairly earned bad reviews will have a negative impact on your business.
Fortunately, there are steps that you and other business owners can take to help ensure that your business is represented as fairly as possible by online reviews. Following are four of them.
Respond to Good Reviews
Although it's normal for business owners to be delighted when customers leave positive reviews, they often pass up the opportunity to create an even stronger connection with the customer by writing a personalized response to the review. This approach makes the reviewer feel appreciated and valued, increasing the possibility of them becoming loyal regular customers and providing anyone reading the review with a positive glimpse of the personal face of your business.
Respond to Bad Reviews
It's almost impossible to run a business that deals directly with the public for any length of time without receiving a bad review on an occasional basis. The best course of action is to deal with negative reviews in a professional manner—for instance, avoid the temptation to post a response that blames the customer, even if you suspect that the customer is just having a bad day and is taking it out on you. Even if that's true, you'll still look petty and unprofessional, so keep it classy for the sake of your business.
If the customer has a legitimate point, you might be able to turn that around into something positive by inviting the customer back to your establishment to give you a second chance. Even if this isn't in the cards, coming across as positive and personable in your response makes you look better to those reading the review.
Report Suspected Fake Reviews
Unfortunately, the online review system is sometimes used for the wrong reasons. For instance, disgruntled ex-employees sometimes post negative online reviews, and competitors who are trying to divert business their way may also be the culprit. Although there are no guarantees that the reviews will be removed, it can't hurt to report them to the review site. Certain review sites such as Yelp are beginning to crack down on fake reviews in order to provide their users with a more authentic experience.
Another reason why online review sites are starting to be more careful is because they risk being held liable by the legal system in certain states if it can be established that the reviews were false. It may also be possible to file a civil personal injury lawsuit against the person who posted the fake review as well.
Talk to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injury attorneys don't just handle cases involving physical injuries such as those resulting from dog bites, vehicle accidents, slip-and-fall mishaps, and other situations where someone has been physically hurt. You may have a case if your business reputation suffers due to fake reviews.
Personal injury laws concerning the negative impact of bad online reviews vary by state, so be sure to make an appointment for a consultation with a qualified attorney to explore the possibilities if you suspect that someone is posting fake reviews about your business. Contact a law firm like Loughlin Fitzgerald P C to learn more.