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+Phil Buckley is so right here, but this note to a customer threatening to sue does illustrate an important division -

* Those who GET IT. 
* Those who don't.

"Get It" refers to the elephants never forget online memory, an online memory created by the mob, fed by wisdom of crowds and immutable once set. Phil had a moving company threaten him and he will probably always outrank them for their most valuable keywords now. 

Those keywords HAVE NO UTILITY for Phil other than teaching a sore loser a lesson. EGO is expensive online. EGO reduces collaboration, silos a brand and cuts off valuable feedback loops or access to keywords. 

AND FOR WHAT? For the ability to throw gasoline on any hope you, your company or brand will be able to have a meaningful and helpful presence online. 

The example Phil shared was a bully threatening someone who gave an honest review "spoiling years of good reviews". 


Any company whose reviews are too good just looks foolish and crooked. Its the 2% negative reviews that make ALL OTHER reviews believable. No one is PERFECT for everyone all the time. 

The creation of a "perfect" image online is nothing other than suspicious. I wrote a #socialmedia  Safety Tips article for +Kelly Hungerford and the team and the company who threatened needs to read that post. They are operating in the red zone. 

Every moment a brand lives in the "red zone" its like the "death zone" on Everest. The web is counting up the votes. Once a tipping point is reached, and bullying creates one almost as fast as humor, there is NO COMING BACK. 

The brand's online reputation is so damaged, so marginalized, any attempt to come back only makes the Chinese finger puzzle tighten. 

Love the "damages we've suffered" riff. Think you are in PAIN now? Keep bullying and today will feel like a walk in the park on rose petals. 

The LARGER issue is to be so clearly clueless is to DESTROY any value proposition the bully can imagine much less actually create. Can't threaten your way to LOVE and LOVE is the business we are all in these days whether we recognize it or not :). M 
I just received an email from a woman who had a bad experience with a photographer in Myrtle Beach, SC and left him a 2 star review. He is now threatening to sue her! (That Casey Movers post is long-tail gold)

Here's the email he sent her yesterday:
I am not sure why you took it upon yourself to destroy a legacy of perfect reviews for my family company for the past 23 years, but I would have appreciated a phone call about your concerns.

We guarantee 100% satisfaction, but after looking at the pics it's obvious that there is something else here going on. You will be hearing from our attorney about the damages that we have incurred based on your false review of only "4 pics" being printable. Our clients read those reviews, and you intended to do us harm. You should have read the policy at the bottom of the website page. 

We are in the process of locating your physical address for process service, and notice of suit for damages totaling in excess of 10,000.00 estimated daily sales, you can stop this, and we will withdraw the suit if you take down the false review, and ask for a refund.
That almost sounds like he's paying for reviews doesn't it?

It still amazes me that bullying and threats is the go-to answer for small businesses that rely on the goodwill of their customers for repeat business and word-of-mouth advertising
Phil Buckley's profile photoJohn Enfield's profile photoMartin W. Smith's profile photoCendrine Marrouat's profile photo
Thanks for sharing Martin.

As usual you see through the corrective lenses of a life lived online.

The Streisand Effect is so awe inspiring that a small time photographer can disappear and never be missed.

When people argue that customers have an obligation to try to resolve a problem before posting a review I always try to remind them that for most of us, we spend our time avoiding confrontation, not seeking it out - so that's just not going to happen.

Second is what you've already touched on… life is imperfect, accept that you can't please everyone and move on.

I'll let you know if anything exciting happens :-)
Businesses have always had to deal with some negative word of mouth stuff, whether it is true or not. Now the difference is that its showing up in print on peoples' screens and sometimes staying there for years. 

A wiser course for this photographer would have been to talk to his webmaster and ask him to take the review off.  It's his website. He can edit it how he sees fit.  In fact, it's not a bad idea to set a website up so that comments and reviews have to be reviewed by a human before they appear to the public on the site.  Then, he could have dealt with the customer in private and offered her a refund and an apology.  This thing of threatening her only damaged his reputation even more. 
Thanks +John Enfield for your comment, but I don't agree (with some of it). I wold NEVER remove a review since that action is likely to spark an even bigger storm and it destroys trust. I do like PART of your idea - always have places people can comment and review on your site. People are going to comment and review and when they do its better if you know it faster.

The other advantage of being on your site is that negative review is placed into the context of better information about you (since its your site) and so doesn't achieve as much negative weight as if it were the only thing about you on Yelp or Google reviews.

A negative review is a GIFT and a TEST. A gift because someone was honest and took the time to share their experience. The 1:9:90 rule says only 1% of visitors are willing to make such a commitment (share content). So this photographer was given the gift of knowing one of their 1%ers.

I would have appreciated the feedback, this is not the same as agreeing, and returned the customer's money with a sizable coupon or offer to try again at another time or send a friend. I would have also asked specific questions based on the review.

This last idea, the conversation, is why +Phil Buckley +Jarrod Swart and I are creating +Curagami. Websites are made of OVERT and COVERT signals. Negative reviews are an OVERT signal requiring careful COVERT actions such as:

* Gratitude for the feedback (finding the 1%er).
* Listening (do this by asking for more feedback).
* Valuing open and honest feedback (again not same as agreeing).
* Collaborating to create a new and improved experience.

The gift of one person's displeasure can create an army of supporters. In fact the most powerful way to marginalize negative reviews is for a site's or brand's "Ambassadors" to share their positive experience in juxtaposition.

Negative reviews are the very essence of a Chinese Finger Puzzle - to the extent YOU (the person, brand or company receiving the negative review) attempt to correct it that action always CONFIRMS IT. Your covert action says the review is correct - you are a bully.

Don't be a bully. Better to LISTEN, appreciate and collaborate. I wrote more extensively about these ideas for +Kelly Hungerford and  in 5 Social Media Marketing Safety Tips .

Reasonable to wonder how I came to these conclusions. For 7 years I ran a multimillion dollar #ecommerce site where my excellent team and I discovered the value of negative reviews, building a community we called our "Buzz Team" and winning hearts, minds and loyalty. We learned our lessons about negative reviews as we learned most lessons - the hard way.

I appreciate your comment and disagree only after flashing a tiny fire into a forest fire when we removed the wrong review - a review from a highly connected guru. Our next approach worked must better.

We spent almost a million bucks to improve the product that, in our honest moments we had to agree, was getting long in the tooth. We asked for input and guidance from the now wronged influential reviewer and he was the first review of our new product - a very POSITIVE review that brought his entire tribe along too. .

He also helped build our Buzz Team. Valuable lesson was any 1%er willing to take the time to share a positive review REALLY wants to be included, to collaborate and help. Have a great weekend and thanks for reminding me about my post and a hard lesson learned :). Marty
+Martin W. Smith You know, this doesn't surprise me at all. In one of my classes one day, someone blatantly asked if it was ok to "bribe" people into leaving positive testimonials on their LinkedIn Page.

Companies and people are so attached to fluff that they take negative reviews as personal attacks.  When all the client is saying is: "Here is what I think you should do to improve your business and make it work even better." 

Of course, some clients are harsher than others, but threatening to sue because they are trying to "destroy" their business? There is a difference between a bad review and harassment or public bashing. lol

Brands need a wake-up call!
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