A: HappyCow's goal is to support vegetarian & vegan restaurants worldwide and help to promote businesses like yours. We also have an unbiased obligation to our site users - to allow for a fair and democratic system for sharing their personal opinions and experiences.
Here's what we recommend:
Get actively involved in the HappyCow community – primarily as an individual and also as someone managing your business' reputation on the HappyCow website. Below is a useful list of DOs and DON'Ts for business owners, and we hope you'll apply them, and let us know which works best.
First, the DON'Ts:
DON'T review your own business anonymously or have your friends do that repeatedly (see below for alternatives).
DON'T over-estimate the impact of a single negative review. It happens to even the best & most well-liked businesses. In fact, in speaking to HappyCow users, we've learned that negative reviews intermingled with favorable reviews often act to enhance the credibility of the positive reviews by illustrating the honesty and openness of the HappyCow environment. That said, if you see a trend of negative reviews, you may want to take this feedback and determine if there is a way to improve your business.
DON'T lash out at the people who have written negative reviews about you. Tempting as that may be, we see that backfiring in some cases as the users/reviewers may up the ante and even engage in "vigilante justice" by spreading more negativity (see below for alternative).
Now, the DOs:
DO register yourself on HappyCow, as an individual or as a business owner, and engage with the community by writing some reviews, upload an avatar, etc...). Even as a business owner/manager, you are a real human being, and HappyCow is the right place to show that.
DO add photos to your business page, and make sure your business information is correct. Click on the 'UPDATE' link if you want to make changes, and be sure to announce that you are the business owner when submitting the information.
DO post a response to a negative review by logging in, then click the "Respond" link under the review.
DO review your own business – clearly stating that you are the business owner. Full disclosure is important here and will be critical in earning the respect of the HappyCow community.
DO use HappyCow member chat ("Contact Member" link) to thank reviewers for writing about your business – but consider waiting 48 hours before responding to any negative reviews as a cooling-off mechanism. Be sure to put yourself in the mindset of your customer, and recognize that your tone may come across as defensive, so tread lightly. Additionally, you may now also PM (Private Message) the member to keep your correspendence confidential (note: unlike the chat page, the PM system does not send a notification email to the member).
DO take the feedback to heart… but remember that each review is just one single opinion, and it's the entire set of the HappyCow reviews together that really matters most.
DO consider becoming a supportive "FRIEND" to HappyCow so that your listing will appear first on the page. Those listed as first on the page and as FRIENDS get more attention by visitors and often receive twice as many reviews as those listed further down the page - more info on becoming a FRIEND.
DO post a HappyCow banner on your own website with a link to Your Review Page. You can find banners for your business by clicking "link to this page" towards the top right of the review page for your business (under your phone number).
Finally, if an excessively negative review was written by a "GUEST" or a name that is not click-able from the review, we will have a look at the review to determine whether it qualifies as being "extremely unfair" or "excessively negative" - contact us. In the case that the review removal request meets the below guidelines, we will remove it:
Review reflects personal difference between the reviewer and owner. Vulgar, vengeful, profane, attacking language. We strongly insist that customers and owners settle all fights, arguments, and disagreements elsewhere and NOT on the HappyCow website.
Overly detrimental to a business. Slanderous, extremely negative remarks without explanation or justification.
Excessively negative comments without explanation and not offering suggestions of constructive steps a business might take to improve and/or not fully explaining reasons.