Have you ever had a bad customer? A customer that just wasn’t happy whether by the fault of their own, or by mistakes made by employee’s or outside influences; is a unhappy customer none-the-less. Off they march to Google Places, Yelp or TripAdvisor loaded with slanderous words and a fast clicking mouse finger dead set on striking 1 star and 1 star alone. Little did you realize that this single unhappy incident could leave such a mark. Well, sorry to break it to you, it could do even more then just corrupt the opinions of potential customers, now it could cost you…. your Google search response rank.

Google took action after a recent story in The New York Times detailed the tactics of an online eyeware store owner who claimed his site’s high Google rankings were directly proportional to the many complaints posted by upset customers. Without going into much detail, Singhal said Google developed “an algorithmic solution” that flags merchants that provide “an extremely poor user experience” and assigns them lower rankings. This is an initial solution to the problem, which Google will continue addressing, he said.

Google has made significant changes to its search algorithm which include user experience and punishing bad business practices. I believe this to be a step in the right direction, however, I am concerned that this might also hurt businesses that have active detractors and plain ol’ “bad customers”. My advice to you would be to ALWAYS consider best practices and solid customer service both online and in your day to day dealings with customers, knowing that helping to create better experiences for your customers returns ten fold, no matter if they are your ideal customer or not. Have a policy in place for dangerous customers that levels with them, but also removes the sting that might spark retribution.