online reviews become an increasingly common tool to
help consumers make everyday decisions, from where to
eat to which roofer to hire, itís important to keep a
few basic guidelines in mind.
been in the consumer-review business for almost 20
years. Here are my top three rules for consumers to
consider before sharing a business or service provider
experience with the world:
honest. You have the right to write truthfully about
your experiences. But that right isnít protected if
you fabricate information.
fair and objective. State your experience as it
happened, without exaggeration or unfounded conclusions.
polite. For instance, itís one thing to say that a
painter showed up late and did sloppy work. Itís quite
another to call the painter a crook.
reviews serve a greater purpose than documenting one
personís experience. They help consumers make better
decisions about spending money on home and other
services, and they can ó if approached properly ó
help companies fine-tune business practices to better
serve customers. But the reality is that people have
always discussed their experiences with companies and
service providers. Online reviews simply amplify that
business owners pay attention to their online reviews
and work to make things right when consumers arenít
happy. Here are my top three rules for how businesses
should respond to negative reviews:
thoughtful. Donít react in the heat of emotion. A
tactless, angry or defensive response could hurt your
business more than a single review.
aware. Donít ignore negative feedback. A thoughtful
response that shows youíve looked into the problem can
increase consumer confidence.
open. A single bad review every now and again isnít
the end of the world. But a pattern of negative feedback
tells you something is wrong and needs attention.
a business owner responds to reviews, particularly
negative ones, tells a prospective customer a lot. I
wouldnít hire someone whoís dismissive of a negative
experience, but I would consider a company that works to
resolve a problem. Iím even more impressed when a
business takes time to respond with thanks to positive