Put a SLAPP on business reputation
Company finds negative information or reviews about its business online. Company reacts and sues.
This scenario has repeated itself through gripe sites such as Yelp and by companies suing consumers directly.
In the news most recently, a towing company sued a student who started a Facebook page after he believed he was towed unfairly and could not come to a resolution with the company.
Instead of working with a single customers, the towing company now is working with a legal team and media outlets such as the New York Times as the complaint snowballs into national headlines.
Legal maneuvers such as these are creating attention for SLAPP, which stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, in which companies sue an individual in the hopes that the associated legal costs will shut down the public demonstration against that company.
On one side, a business should not be able to intimidate an individual by causing financial hardship, which would signal a chilling effect to other consumers. On the other side, some consumers will hide behind anti-SLAPP laws to post information regardless of truth.
Want to avoid becoming part of a lawsuit? Give customers a voice.
Feedback and reviews are becoming an essential component of doing business online and are increasingly critical for offline businesses, as well. Businesses, of course, want reviews to be positive, but responding to a customer through a dispute resolution process can be a lot less costly than a legal team.
In this case, if the towing company had a customer service process in place where they listened and responded to customers, this may have never turned into a headline. Even if the customer dialogue ultimately did not resolve the issue, a response could have decreased the overall impact.
A survey from the National Association of Retail Marketing Services reports that companies lose 10 customers for every one that complains. With online reach, that number could trend much higher.
However, 95 percent of unhappy customers will return if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently.
SMBs – learn from these precedents and don’t become a statistic. Instead of taking a backseat to customer interaction, take the opportunity to drive customer interaction with proactive reviews.
To learn more best practices in handling customer feedback, check out RatePoint’s “The Small--Business Owner’s Guide to Building a Great Reputation Online,” an eBook about online reputation management, which is available here to download.