A version of this article previously appeared on Inc.
For many small businesses, their online reputation is their passport to virtual word-of-mouth referrals. Unfortunately, an articulate and engaging negative review on Yelp!, TripAdvisor or Amazon can have an outsized impact on a small business.
You operate your business from a small boat in the remote waters of northern Fiji and your customers are spread across the globe, residing in the US, Europe and Asia. How can you protect your company's reputation when a rouge customer unjustly flames your startup?
In searching for world-class examples of public responses to irate customers' complaints, I found one that emanated from an unlikely place, Savusavu, Fiji. The respondent to the customer complaint was Tige Young, CEO and Owner of the Tui Tai Expeditions, cited by National Geographic as, "one of the best adventure travel companies on earth."
With an excellent online reputation, it would be understandable if Tige chose to disregard the occasional negative review. However, rather than ignore discontented customers, Tige does a masterful job of crafting rebuttals that are informative, appropriately deferential and amusing.
In addition to utilizing reputation management services such as YellowBot, entrepreneurs must become proficient online advocates, defending their businesses against unjust and unfounded attacks. Left unattended, such attacks are detrimental. Inartfully handled, such reviews can be disastrous.