A warning – it is entirely possible that a client may try to hold your business hostage by posting a negative review.
We speak from experience, unfortunately.
According to online reports:
Nine out of ten people report that a negative review has caused them to avoid a business.
86% of consumers are influenced by negative reviews.
Having more than four negative reviews can decrease sales by 70%.
If you’re currently dealing with a tough customer determined to ruin your hard-earned reputation, you won’t want to miss this story!
In it, we share all the juicy details and how we proactively handled the situation.
We’re Sure You Can Relate
Nothing can quite prepare you for when business becomes personal.
We’ve worked on thousands of negative reviews on behalf of our clients over the years, and our team of writers walks a fine line to represent the side of the business owner and also does our best not to “poke the bear”.
We always strive to maintain a professional tone for potential clients who will read the review.
Something we do every day became a lot more complicated when it was personal.
It Started With a Few Reviews
Detractors are part of any business, but this felt different.
It all started when our review monitoring tool notified us that a slew of negative reviews was posted by a former client, turned aggressive detractor.
At WebPunch, we go out of our way to apologize and make things right if a client of ours isn’t pleased.
Immediately, our team reached out to him and went above and beyond to try and appease him. It didn’t take too long for us to figure out there was no way this fence could be mended.
All our offers and apologies only fueled his fire.
After his initial reviews were posted, he had a few of his family members review our business on Facebook.
Then, it got worse a few days later when he began replying to positive comments and recommendations with paragraphs lamenting his corporate offices’ decision to partner with us.
We were shocked and embarrassed that he was making it his business to contact our clients.
We’re talking about the worst-case scenario in the world of negative reviews, and it went on.
His posts and rantings continued for over a year. Every time we had a positive review on Facebook, this person was incensed enough to respond to our client with a new version of their negative review.
When Negative Reviews Become Harassment
Over the course of his harassment, he posted seventy-five to one hundred unsolicited replies to our clients on Facebook.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the intensity and regularity of the replies that we received were alarming.
Our team was at our wit’s end!
We drafted a firm response, more direct than the one we initially posted, and we added this new reply to a few of his most pointed comments. We contacted his corporate office, and they sent a message telling him to stop his campaign and thankfully clarified that many of his complaints were outside the scope of our partnership agreement. They also informed us that they were in the middle of a legal dispute with him and that they had found him to be incredibly difficult to deal with.
The email sent by corporate was ignored, and the comments along with an excessive number of mad face emojis on Facebook continued.
Since some of the reviews posted by his family were not reflective of genuine customer experiences, we did attempt to remove them. However, we were dealing with Facebook, and our reports of the numerous content violations did nothing.
Eventually, we were able to hide his comments underneath our clients’ posts, but only from our view.
This sadly meant that all of his insanely long rants were still visible to everyone visiting our page.
How We Handled This Situation
The posting was habitual and we were backed into a corner, so we did something we never thought we would have to do.
In the past, we’ve looked into some cases of businesses suing over negative reviews, and we’re aware that it’s a costly process with no guarantee of success.
We simply could not let his posting continue and after a year, we made the decision to contact a litigator.
We approached a top-notch attorney, and we paid a pretty penny to send a letter demanding that he “cease and desist these activities, delete his disparaging posts, or WebPunch is prepared to seek any and all available legal redress including, but not limited to, redress for your violations of state common law and/or statutory law.”
It still feels cathartic to read the strong legal language the attorney included. At the time the letter was sent, we crossed our fingers and hoped that we had finally found a way to stop his online rampage.
At last, two years after his initial review, the barrage of negativity has finally stopped! We haven’t heard another peep from this detractor (knock on wood).
We’ve never had the need to involve a lawyer in response to negative reviews, but we’ve learned from this experience that there is a time when it may be necessary.
If you have a detractor that has taken their concern online to the next level by posting multiple reviews, or if they demand that you give them something and attempt to use their review as leverage, carefully consider all your options.
In most cases, a thoughtfully crafted response or reporting of a bogus review can mitigate the damage done.
If there is undue escalation, you may find yourself dealing with someone that can’t be reasoned with, and has a seemingly unending amount of time available to post online and monitor your page.
When your detractor has become an online harasser, it’s time to think outside the box and make sure you’re protecting your reputation. Trust us, we know how tough it can get out there in the ring!
We’re in Your Corner!
Our team is always happy to discuss client feedback and reviews, and we’d be glad to provide you with our expertise in everything review or NPS-related, including tips on how to deal with crazy detractors.
Feel free to connect with us to learn more about how to effectively get a handle on your online presence, from review generation to making the most of your client feedback.
Need extra help? Contact us today for review response services