One of the more difficult customer service challenges for a growing business are “devil customers.” These customers frequently return, request for exchanges or fixes that are well outside of the scope of excellent customer service. Prior to the proliferation of readily available Yelp and Google Reviews, these so-called devil customers resorted to local news shows or the Better Business Bureau to file their complaint. Both of these avenues have relatively lenient but still-existent investigative processes that allow for two sides of the story. On newer sites such as RipOffReport and other “consumer review sites”, no such due diligence is prevalent. These entities profit off of bad publicity in two ways:
Revenue from advertising – Most customers with a great positive experience do not take the time to write extensive detailed reviews, although this metric is increasing. The more a customer writes about how poor the product is, the more likely the business will be picked up by a search engine and individuals will click-through to the site. Since websites like Yelp and Google+ are paid-per-view, this incentives any review without stringent screening.
Paying to remove negative reviews – The more malicious intent of some review providers is staggering. It’s essentially extortion. When firms refute the claims of the reviewer, the website offers to take down the review — for a fee. This is less common, but it certainly does exist.
What’s important is context. When a service firm does thousands of transactions annually and has only a few negative reviews, that’s an extraordinarily high rate of implied customer satisfaction. It requires critical thinking and not reactionary sentiment — which is quality that many people glancing at reviews for an important task do not have the time. This places businesses at an unfair disadvantage, while the profits from advertising still roll in for the review site.
All in all, business review sites target legitimate hard-working service entities because they can. No legislation exists in this matter, and until it does, it’s important to keep in mind the maxim — one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.
What you can do is to address the issue. At most review sites you have the option to leave a public answer for everyone to see. Explain the situation but don’t attack, just be professional.
Other thing you can do is to ask the review site to remove the review. If they see the review is personal or using bad language, they will most likely remove it. Please note that if they see the review is about their experience with your company they won’t remove it.
What I also suggest to do is to write about it on your website, on your blog. Explain the situation and make sure this page will rank on the search engines. People need to know to take these reviews with a grain of salt.