If I’m a business owner, obviously I want to get glowing reviews. Positive feedback spreads good word-of-mouth which is good for the bottom line. In a perfect world everyone would be happy with whatever is my latest product or service. But the world is not perfect so there is bound to be someone who just doesn’t grasp what I’m promoting.
The flip side of this coin is that if I’m a consumer and I just don’t like you’re selling I should be able to voice my opinion in public and online. I mean, the Constitution protects me, right? Freedom of Speech and all that?
I’ll teach you…
Well not exactly and I’ve written about this very thing: So-called gag clauses that businesses can place in their terms-of-service that allow them to take legal action against customers who post negative Internet reviews.
Fortunately smarter heads have prevailed with the proposal of the Consumer Review Freedom Act (CRFA) which most recently was passed by the Senate in Mid December 2015 and now goes before the House.
I can’t begin to tell you how important this bill is. The bill cracks down on so-called gag clauses that businesses can place in their terms of service that allow them to take legal action against customers who post negative Internet reviews.
Banning the gag clauses
More specifically, as pointed out in an online article on marketingprofs.com, the CRFA will provide:
- A nationwide ban on the use of “anti-review,” “gag,” or “non-disparagement” clauses
- Empowerment of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and states to take action against businesses that attempt to keep consumers from posting negative reviews
Important for all businesses
For business owners this proposed legislation will guarantee a number of things that many of us may take for granted:
- Freedom of speech in online reviews
- Access to honest information from customers
- The chance to learn from constructive criticism
- The chance to turn negative reviews into positive experiences
- An opportunity to work together against fabricated reviews
Living and dying by the review
It doesn’t really matter if you sell hotdogs or you sell real estate because you should stand by the validity of what you sell. Real estate in particular is filled with practitioners that live and die by ratings and reviews of their services, and therefore, in my humble opinion, this legislation needs to be supported by all industries.
And guess what? If you get negative reviews (as opposed to fake fabricated reviews) then learn from it and use the opportunity as a perfect chance to put everything you’ve ever (hopefully) learned about customer service into practice.