By Hannah Connorton and Michelle Graff
New York--Whether it’s about one’s business or private life, it is a universal truth that nobody likes receiving negative reviews. 

Unfortunately they are out there, with the Internet providing a cloak of anonymity for “trolls”--people who post comments or reviews for the sole purpose of starting arguments, not because they actually have an opinion about the subject or service--and others who wish to post damaging statements under false pretenses. 

Retailers have little control over the rules governing when online review sites will take down, or, as is the case many times, not take down, negative comments. What jewelers can control, however, is how they react to bad reviews. 

Brian Douglas, a manager at, recently took the time to answer seven questions from National Jeweler about how retailers can best handle online complaints, whether they are legitimate or not. helps businesses with both managing their company’s reputation online and search engine optimization. 

National Jeweler: What’s the first step a jeweler should take if there is a negative review about their business posted on Yelp, CitySearch, Google+ or other community website?

Brian Douglas: The first step should be getting ahead of the inevitable negative reviews. Be proactive and make sure you seek reviews from your happy customers. Hand out materials indicating where the customer can review your company online. Do not ask for, or incentivize, positive reviews; simply ask for an honest review of your company. This way, when a negative review is filed it is either buried underneath positive reviews or at least there is a healthy ratio of positive to negative reviews. 

The second step would be to assist the positive reviews to rank as high as possible. If there is an option available to “like” or thumbs up a positive review, be sure to do that as it will help it rank higher. It is always good practice to thank positive reviewers with a comment as well. 

Once there is a negative review posted, be sure to respond to them as well. This will show that you’re serious about customer service and can add to your trust factor for other potential customers reading the review.

NJ: What’s the best way to respond to a negative review?

BD: Nobody likes receiving negative reviews about their company. Therefore, do not respond to it immediately. Give yourself a little bit of time to “cool off” and digest the complaint. Keep your response positive and constructive. Address the complaint and be sure to take this opportunity to highlight something positive about your company as well. This way you can turn a negative into a positive. People usually just want to be heard.

NJ: What should a jeweler do if someone posts a false negative review? 

BD: The first step is to report the false review to the website itself. Read the website’s review guidelines and, if it violates their terms, be sure to include that in your report. Take a look at the reviews posted by the same user and try to build your case that the review is fake (i.e., they reviewed multiple businesses throughout the country on the same day.)

If the review simply looks “spammy,” be sure to indicate that as well. The idea here is to arm yourself with as much ammo as possible for the customer service representative to consider while handling your report. 

Oftentimes, however, the review will not be removed. In these cases you should publicly explain why the review is false or misleading. As with other negative reviews, be sure to keep your composure and more often than not potential customers will identify it as fake. The review will unfortunately still be calculated in your star rating, so it is imperative that you be proactive in gathering reviews from your customers.

NJ: What should a jeweler do if they appear to be the target of a “troll” i.e., a person who comments on multiple sites for the sole purpose of upsetting people and/or engaging them in arguments? 

BD: We recommend following the same procedures as (outlined for) false negative reviews. Respond to the complaints in a civilized manner and plead your case. Internet consumers tend to be pretty savvy these days and will usually pick up on the fact that the complainer is a “troll.” 

NJ: If a jeweler responds positively to a negative review and the customer is still upset, what should the next step be?

BD: If it is a real customer it would be best to express your apology that they didn’t have a positive experience. Indicate that you will reach out to them privately to try to make the situation right. Assuming this is a real customer with a legitimate complaint, it might be prudent to completely refund the customer and offer a discount on a future purchase. Just be sure to word your correspondence carefully in case the person decides to quote it publicly.

NJ: Is there anything a jeweler shouldn’t say when responding to a negative review?

BD: Do not start an argument with a negative reviewer, even if you feel you are 100 percent correct. It will only lead to more complaints on additional websites and will also be looked at negatively by future potential customers.

NJ: Are there any instances where a jeweler shouldn’t respond to a negative review?

BD: Yes. There are “complaint” websites (i.e., Ripoff Report) where it is generally the complainer’s main goal to hurt the reputation of a company, no matter what has or hasn’t transpired. We find that when you respond to these complaints, the original author will simply come back and bash the company further. 

Every time a response is filed, these complaint pages tend to rank higher in the search engines when people search your company name. If too many of these types of complaints are filed, the search results for your company name might severely hinder your business growth. Crisis management is, unfortunately, why most of our reputation management clients come on board. Getting ahead of negative reviews, whether on your own or with the assistance of a reputation management company, is absolutely imperative these days.  

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.