Recently, someone posted a bogus, malicious review about our appliance service business on Yelp. We had never worked for the reviewer nor had a service call that went anything like what he described. We think it may have been posted by a competitor. But this doesn't stop Yelp from posting it or allowing it to remain.
There are two ways to deal with such reviews on Yelp, both of which are focused on perception damage control and so are written with the potential customer in mind. But they are very different strategies:
1. The Serious Business Approach: This is a direct approach where you politely explain that, although you don't know who the reviewer is, that you would be happy to refund all his money if he contacts you with his real name. Then go on to showcase how your business works. This is the approach that 99.9% of service companies take.
2. The Surreal Approach: This strategy employs the principle of Judo where your opponent's own force is used against him. In the context of dealing with a fake review, the idea is to extend the reader's experience of reading a bogus review into the surreal and, in so doing, lampoon the bogus review. It's the proven technique of illustrating absurdity by being absurd. Again, this approach is not for a typical negative review by an actual customer. This is for over-the-top, fictional reviews by people who weren't even your customer.
And for most service companies, the first approach is probably the best strategy. However, if you have access to a creative writer (you can hire my son, Stephen), you can take the second approach.
Here's the reply we posted to our 1-star "review" on Yelp:
Why bother to tell a tale, William E., if you are going to leave out all the best parts? Come, gentle reader, let me tell you the rest of the story.
Things admittedly got off to a rough start when I walked into his house and stepped on his dog and dropped my toolbag on the cat. I then tried to diffuse the situation by paying a compliment to his grandfather, who tearfully explained that she was his wife. When Mr. E started to complain about all of this, I interrupted him by loudly imitating goat noises. I do this periodically to connect with my totem animal. It’s a spiritual thing.
Mr. E showed me to the oven and left to comfort his wife. I then felt the call from The Beyond and began to meditate. I was carried off to the seventh Heavenly Realm where Fixituru no Dotukami, the Great Samurai Repairman in the Sky, dwells. There, we drank sake and had our back hair braided by cherubs. I then started up the path of total appliantological nirvana, but was rudely brought back to earth by the voice of Mr. E asking what the *bleep* I was doing. This is why I appeared angry to him: never interrupt a man who is hallucinating vividly.
After skillfully applying duct tape to the oven and making a random guess at what the problem was, I went to pull up the repair cost on my tablet, when I realized I'd mistaken a piece of cardboard for my iPad. Again. Punching the cardboard with my fingers and making beeping noises, I made up a price on the spot using my keen, appliantological wit.
After he told me “no way,” I quickly hid the piece of paper Mr. E thought the part numbers were written on because I didn’t want him to see the sacred doodles of divination scrawled on it. They are not for the eyes of the uninitiated.
We here at The Appliance Guru are sorry that, as Mr. and Mrs. E stood in their doorway and watched me soar away on my magical, flying toilet, wishing one and all a merry Kwanza and sprinkling enchanted pixie dust across the land, they were not thrilled by my services. If it pleases Mr. E, I can return to his home to perform ritual suicide—perhaps the sight of my steaming entrails spilled on his kitchen floor will be enough to repair any ill-will.
We thank you for using our business. Have a nice day.