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How to Clean Up Your Online Reputation

Skweal takes complaints out of the public forum, giving businesses a chance to make good

Five-star reviews are great for business, but there's no way to stop angry Yelpers from publishing bad ones. Until now.

Skweal is a feedback platform designed to help brick-and-mortar retailers resolve issues privately, before a customer does any damage online. The idea is to get people to visit on their smartphones, locate the business from a list and submit a comment or complaint through Skweal's feedback form. Skweal employees take it from there, passing the message as quickly as possible to the right person. Early Skwealers have benefited. One wrote, "The Internet isn't working in my room, and I'm thinking about changing hotels." That led to--true story--a fix within half an hour, plus a champagne-and-fruit-basket apology.

"It takes 30 seconds or less, and customers don't need to register or sign up," says Skweal founder Tyler Crowley, a former executive at and a producer at Open Angel Forum. He's campaigning to get more business owners to share their best contact information, and to encourage their customers to provide feedback through Skweal.

In fact, Crowley says the only reason people complain publicly about the local dry cleaner or café is because there's no convenient alternative.

"Virtually all one-star reviewers I interviewed said they would have preferred to speak directly to someone when the problem was happening," he says. "But nobody has time to be stuck in a phone tree, dig for a customer service e-mail or fill out an impersonal comment card."

If Skweal takes off--and plenty of investors think it will­--business owners can get real-time feedback, win customer service points and nip complaints in the bud. And not a moment too soon, since asking for the manager is so 20th century.

Jennifer Wang is a staff writer at Entrepreneur magazine in Southern California.

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This article was originally published in the March 2011 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: How to Clean Up Your Online Reputation.

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