If you are a business, especially a small one, you often rest your business fortunes on what people say about you. It’s your reputation after all. What people say about you often influences others to buy from or to avoid you. It can make or break your business. And when you fall victim to reputational vandalism what then?
It was true in the time before the internet, when we lived in small villages. Let’s say you heard about the baker skimping on the creme for his eclairs or how you needed to watch for the butcher’s thumb on the scale. Often enough, that behavior didn’t last long, because of word of mouth.
Your reputation often tends to precede your introduction, and it is especially true in the 21st century. The online digital world has shifted the balance of power to the consumer. The consumer now has more information in order to base their decision on. People have always sought out what others think about a buying decision. Now they seek out what others have experienced online.
There’s an old saying – it takes 20 years to build a reputation and only five minutes, or in my case a one star review, to ruin it. Recently my company DNA Digital Marketing received a one star review on Google Business. It was from an individual who we did not know and had never done business with. One star, a black ink stain on our perfectly clean suit of reviews. Google’s mission is to provide the most relevant search results possible (albeit at a profit). Here DNA, a relatively young company who has been praised in the community and by its clients, has suffered a one star drive-by. It is a case of Reputational Vandalism, a phrase I coined as a result of this situation.
I reached out to Google to get the review expunged. Several colleges have done so on my unsolicited behalf (thank you), and yet, there it is, the one star stain on our profile. There for those who do not know us, to think, “I’ll pass on engaging with this agency.”
There is no recourse. No court of appeals. Just our own mission at DNA Digital Marketing: To provide the highest level of attention and quality of work that yields the best results for our clients. To work every day – yes, we work every day – to make sure that our client’s interests are being advocated for in the digital arena.
My colleagues who own businesses tell me that this is the nature of the beast. That people will throw you under the bus for the least infraction, the slightest slight, a misinterpreted glance or tone. I could accept that from a client if they were unhappy, I would at least take responsibility for it and try to make amends. I would bleed in order to make things right. But this, I can’t accept. I don’t tolerate it. Someone who is either a fake profile, or someone who has made a mistake in identity,(the person hails from NYC where there is a company containing DNA in their name. They have a low rating), however it got there, the one star stain remains.
So I close with this. In this era of outrage and rush to judgement, take a moment. Think of the humans – the business owners, the servers, the cashiers, the hard-working people – on the other end of your cursor. They have families to support, kids in college, and mortgages to pay off. Think before you one star review someone. Make sure your review is fair and balanced. In the digital age it’s easy to stroll through the stars and reviews that are available for everything that is for sale. (Don’t you wish there were review stars for our political leader when election time rolls around?) During the consideration phase of buying, it is a beneficial part of the caveat emptor process that a buyer be aware of what they are buying, but this does not hold true if those stars and reviews are untrue or unbalanced. Look beyond the stars and look to see the company’s response.