Online Reviews: Don’t Give Into Blackmailers
Ironically the same day I was asked if I would share what I’ve learned about taking advantage of the good things internet review sites have done for my contracting business, I read a post on a contractors networking forum that made me a little sad and a little angry.
The string started with a contractor talking of a recent experience with a customer, where his technician received the customers approval to do a fl at rate repair, completed the work, collected the money, and went on to his next call. The following day the contractor receives a call from the customer who stated he has located the same part online for XX dollars and either the contractor refund XX dollars or his company would, “Suffer an internet assassination at his hands.” (Ouch!)
From the post, it seemed that not only did the technician d0 his job properly by capturing the customer’s repair price approval in writing beforehand, it sounded to me as if this company had well defined procedures in place and had followed those procedures.
When the contractor asked the customer why he had signed approving the price if he was not satisfied with it, the customer replied “It was cold, so I did what I had to do and now I am doing the same. I looked the parts up online and decided you charged me more than I am willing to pay.”
The contractor went on to say, “I’ve already handled this with my own solution, but I’m curious what others would do in the same situation.”
This type of story is sadly all too common, especially in recent years. And as there are probably not many contractors that cannot share a similar experience, a few responses quickly came back, many with what I would define as rather sound advice.
The response that bothered me was (verbatim), “A little secret (which sucks) WE DO WHATEVER WE CAN TO PREVENT NEGATIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE, it can destroy us.”
I not only could relate to this contractor and this situation all too well, I too at one time would have posted the same reply. What made me mad though, was that a small percentage of unscrupulous people are willing to stop at nothing, including blackmail, to rip off hard working businesspeople with little effort and a little “keyboard courage.”
What I got out of that was post was … pay the bribe, because your company’s reputation, your very livelihood, everything you’ve worked so hard for is in these people’s hands!
What angered and saddened me was that he was absolutely correct! Enough negative information spread around the internet about any type of product or business can have detrimental effects and even threaten the survival of said product or business.
But while I once also felt cornered and would’ve paid my blackmailer to go away (and pay for the pleasure of providing free service and products), I decided I was going to stand up, hold my head high, and beat these types at their own game.
There are many things I’ve learned about using online review sites to your businesses’ advantage.
The single BEST thing I’ve learned through the years of utilizing review sites as a marketing tool as opposed to being terrified of these sites. It’s not about preventing the small percentage of kooks, blackmailers, and people who just can’t be pleased from posting a negative review (or 10 negative reviews on multiple sites). It’s about getting the large percentage of genuinely good and honest people to post a positive review on their experience with your business
Of course it starts with providing excellent service and doing the right thing by your client in the first place. But if you’re confident that’s the case in your business, why not ask every client to post a review? You have to ask though (squeaky wheel gets the oil), and if you’ve already wowed them … you’d be surprised how many are happy to do it.
Most people see right through the undeserved, negative, and even false reviews and trust in what the majority has to say. They know these other people exist and have to deal with them in their daily lives too. They become even less significant when they are surrounded by a majority of reviews your happy clients have posted.
Bottom line, try to look at review sites as a free marketing tool and ask for reviews. The reviews you receive will be a true reflection of how you are really viewed in your community!
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