November 13, 2018

Hysterical Client Comments on Yelp, Facebook, Et al. Should Not Go Unanswered


Yelp, like most social platforms, has its pros and cons. It’s great for all kinds of businesses to get their name out there, and not just restaurants. I found my co-working space on Yelp. I found a garage door service company on Yelp. I found a gas fireplace technician on Yelp. Do you need a cat groomer who also offers respectable tax advice? That business is probably and Yelp and you can learn if it’s worth a damn or not.

However, a breathless, preposterous Yelp review can tarnish a business’s reputation unfairly. These are most common on restaurant reviews; if a server looks away from the wrong Yelper just a little too quickly, this can result in a 2,000 word screed about how the server “Ignored our table the entire evening” and that the reviewer “Wouldn’t return to this dump with a gun to my head.”

Anyway, I mentioned a story of a California tax preparer a couple weeks back who sued Yelp to obtain the identity of a user who wrote a defamatory review. This prompted a reader to write in about his firm’s own Yelp misadventure:

Earlier this year, a client went onto Yelp to complain about the quality of our services provided to her. Fortunately for us, she also posted the same review word-for-word on our Facebook page. As a result, we were able to look into what happened and you’ll be shocked to know the client was largely in the wrong.

At this point, our tipster said that the situation was made only slightly worse by a willful partner. The tale continues:

Long story short, she (and her husband) failed to provide a 1099 to us, so some income was excluded from their return. The husband realized the mistake two months after they filed, and they asked us to fix it. We said that since it was their fault (the husband admitted he forgot to give us the 1099 in question), we would be charging them to amend the return. This sent the woman into a rage, and after several heated emails back and forth, she did the rational thing and took her complaints to the internet.

There’s nothing quite like a client who takes “The customer is always right” to the extent that they discharge themselves of any responsibility or competence. This is especially effective on the internet where you can bitch endlessly about the injustice you’ve suffered merely because you can.

Accounting firms depend on their reputation to secure their clients but also as a matter of winning new ones. If a bad review like this one goes unchallenged, then what’s lost is virtually unmeasurable. You’d think that most firms would mount a vigorous defense of their honor, but in my experience, many are scared stiff to respond. As if responding to allegations somehow makes them valid or shows weakness.

This firm, fortunately, did not go gentle into that good night. Here’s our tipster’s conclusion:

In any case, had she not posted on Facebook we likely wouldn’t have been able to respond in any way to the allegation, leaving our reputation out there twisting in the wind, but we were able to respond on both platforms (Yelp and Facebook) with our side of the story.

How each firm responds to its online nemesis is a matter of preference. Of course, if you know the identity of the client, you could always call them up and talk to them in IRL, but if that sort of personal touch makes you nervous, there are other options.

A ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ may suffice, however, this could be perceived as slapdash or flippant. If you offer your side of the story, be sure not to match the emotional tone of the OP, so not to come off defensive. And if you did screw up and the scorned client is right, try apologizing. That’s usually a decent way to go. But don’t ignore a (seemingly) serious complaint. The internet is forever, you know.

Have you had a confrontation with a client online? How did you handle it? Share the gory details below or email us the story.

Image: iStock/BrianAJackson

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Facebook Finds a CFO, Hopefully One that is Okay with Awkward Interaction

Facebook Inc. announced today that David Ebersman will be the company’s Chief Financial Officer:

Ebersman, 39, will oversee Facebook’s finance, accounting, investor relations and real estate functions. He will formally start in September, Palo Alto, California-based Facebook said in a statement today.

You’ll note that Ebersman will oversee “investor relations”. It’s probably no coincidence that this is not a task that falls on Mark Zuckerberg who “has been known to have awkward interactions with other humans”:
Thus, another challenge that will face Ebersman in his new position will be actually interacting with his boss. We here at Going Concern predict that awkward encounters with Zuckerberg will definitely be the biggest unforeseen challenge that Ebersman will wrestle with.
The article does not elaborate on whether Ebersman’s status updates on the social networking site are trite observations about the weather, his busy weekend, or a bad day at work.

Facebook Names Former Genentech Manager Ebersman Finance Chief”: [Bloomberg]

Deloitte Is Super Proud of Their Presence on Linked In

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DTa.jpgOh, and they finally released their global revenue numbers.

Deloitte ended the suspense today, issuing their global revenues for fiscal year 2009 and issuing their “annual review”. For the past couple of months, we were speculating about the holdup since they have historically been issued much earlier.

Most of the comments at that time were taking the under on the revenues and they were right, as Deloitte came in at $26.1 billion. This was down 4.9% but the firm kindly reminds everyone that in local currency, there was actually growth of 1%, thankyouverymuch.

This, despite all the charts on Deloitte’s website showing the drop of 4.9%. Jim Quigley, Global CEO, and going with the local currency figures:

“Achieving positive growth in this exceptionally difficult economic environment was the result of close attention to the needs of clients and a strong commitment to professional excellence by our member firm professionals. Despite the tough economy, we remain focused on our vision to be the standard of excellence and will continue to invest in pursuit of this vision”

In addition to JQ’s assessment, an explanation of revenues by functional area continue to refer to growth while the chart shows decreases in revenues when compared to the prior fiscal year:

Consulting was the fastest growing function at 7.3 percent. Reflecting the challenging economy, both audit and tax were relatively flat against the prior year. Financial advisory services decreased by 6.1 percent from the prior year, primarily due to substantially decreased merger and acquisition activity.

On the chart, consulting was shown to only grow 2%, tax decreased by 5.5%, audit by 6.4%, and financial advisory by 13.8%. So, yeah, a little confusing. Not to mention that all of the charts present this information in what appears to be Enron Beezlebub.

Deloitte presents a whole bunch of additional information that is much larger, including how awesome the firm’s social network presence is:

• Over 75,000 members on Linked In
• Over 11,000 fans of their Facebook page
• Over 2,000 followers on their Twitter feed

And since they knew you were wondering, Deloitte uses 2.59 MWh of electricity per person, which amounts to carbon emissions of 1.31 Mt CO2 per person. Again, since this information is in much larger font, we’ll go out on a limb and assume that it positive news.

Seems like the typical spin, so we’ll take it for what it’s worth. Discuss your thoughts on Deloitte’s numbers and what it’s Facebook status might be in the comments.