California has introduced a law that bans companies from punishing customers who post negative reviews online. The fact that such a law is needed is troubling in several ways (and yes, it is needed as one hotel threatened to fine brides for $500 for every negative review left by one of their wedding guests).
Businesses shouldn’t be trying to restrict free speech. Customers have the right to their opinions, and the right to share them online. Yes, negative reviews can be damaging for businesses, but only if they are handled badly.
Negative reviews are an opportunity. They offer businesses the chance to engage with customers over something that the customer is passionate about. Negative reviews offer businesses the chance to show that they aren’t faceless entities. They are a concept fuelled by a group of people who are every bit as susceptible to making mistakes as we are as customers. It gives businesses a chance to put the problem right.
By trying to shut down the critical reviews, all businesses do is send customers three messages: we’re not listening, we don’t care about your experience or opinions, and we value our needs above our customer’s.
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