Customers deserve the right to review your services in an impartial and public way. However, they don’t have the right to deceive people about your business. Now more than ever, when disgruntled customers spread falsehoods about you online, the damage can be significant. Today, we look at one example and evaluate some ways to protect yourself.
An article from The New York Times reports on a recent example of this phenomenon:
As the power of the Internet grows, businesses small and large find themselves confounded by disenchanted employees, suppliers and competitors who seek fertile ground to air grievances online. Armed with little more than a Web connection and a keyboard, these detractors can do everything from irritate, via a scathing review, to causing serious business problems by using message boards to reveal company secrets or spread rumors of unethical behavior. They may also start a gripe site or register a Web address in their target’s name.
The Times also outlines a few ways to protect yourself from specious and hurtful practices. These include the following:
- Buying up domain names that might be used to criticize your site.
- Blogging or posting a response.
- Trademarking your company name.
- If all else fails, initiating legal action.
While these practices shouldn’t be employed to stifle constructive criticism (which could conceivably benefit your business by helping you to refine your quality of service), they might help contain the damage created when a few hate-filled detractors take to the Web. In any event, tread carefully and employ these tools wisely; haphazardly slapping a lawsuit on a disgruntled customer could lead to more pain in the end than if you hadn’t done so at all.