Nothing can be more frustrating to a small business owner than to find a message about the company online that is not positive. You may easily find a few complaints about your business on the websites that allow for online reviews. It is very tempting to simply correct the individual mistaken beliefs or outright lies online. Even if you know that the person’s remarks are 100 percent inaccurate, you simply have to avoid getting into an online argument. When you do, you are nearly always going to end up losing in one way or another.

Correcting Inaccurate Information

When someone posts something about your business online, you may instantly know the information is not true or is not fully accurate. You want people to realize that this is not true. So, what do you do? You can address the information. Point out, in a gentle way, what information was provided that was inaccurate. State your case without opinion, just focusing on the facts involved. The goal here is to be willing and able to communicate without emotion. This is very hard to do. Simply provide a version of what happened based on actual fact and leave out any direct addressing to the individual who posted the comments.

Don’t Fight Online

Even if you eventually win a word battle online, it is not worth the fight. There are many reasons why it can feel good to just clear up information, but in the end, you likely will have turned off any of your potential customers that have seen this information about your company being reported. While the initial complaints are one thing, the way you treat other people is going to make a bigger impact overall. In short, if you treat that customer poorly, even if they are treating you badly with lies and miss-information, you will create an even worse marketing mess for yourself.

Put down your worries and take a deep breath. Ultimately, you need to realize that providing your customers with accurate information is important but trying to win the war of words online is not going to help your business. Provide information that’s accurate and without emotion. Encourage the unhappy client to contact you again for more information and to fix the problem. Showing your other potential customers that you are taking steps to fix the underlying concern is a big win for you in the long term.

Mark van Berkel is Founder and President of Hunch Manifest Inc. While managing business operations he also leads the team in designing semantic technology to provide personalized online presence and reputation management services. Prior to forming the company, he was consultant in enterprise software projects to companies including Panasonic, Shell, and General Electric and was an Architect for a world leading human capital management software-as-a-service. Mark holds a Bachelor of Information Systems from StFX University and did his graduate studies at University of Toronto, getting a MEng Industrial Information Engineering and an MBA, Strategy and Innovation from the Rotman School of Management. In 2006 he published a 170 page report as a researcher at the Semantic Technologies Lab at the University of Toronto and built a semantic technology prototype for SAP Research Labs. Connect with Mark on LinkedIn or Twitter. Mark is also certified in Google Analytics.