You knew it would happen eventually. Someone gave your business a negative review on Yelp. You have invested a lot of time and effort into reputation management online, and it is frustrating to know negative comments are out there on the web for all to see. Bad reviews will appear in search results, harming your reputation among existing customers and discouraging potential new customers from giving you a try. You tell yourself it’s just one review, but at the back of your mind, you still wish there was something you could do about it. The conventional wisdom is a one star increase or decrease can affect your business by as much as 10%. No matter how many positive reviews you have, anything negative hurts.
Business owners working hard at reputation management online face many challenges when a negative review shows up on Yelp. The service does not use moderators, which means inaccurate information a reviewer posts won’t be caught by someone checking for facts. Yelp uses an automated filter that is supposed to keep only the trustworthy reviews on a business’s page, but unfortunately, filtered reviews aren’t actually deleted. They still show up in the filtered section of a business’s page on Yelp. If you can’t make them go away, what do you do?
Keep calm and keep going
No matter how much a negative review hurts or angers you, resist the urge to respond while those feelings are still strong. If you do say something when you’re upset, it’s more than likely your response will come off as overly defensive and won’t be seen as a real attempt to address a customer’s concerns. Take the time to think about your response and how it will appear to others. If you find yourself getting emotional every time someone says something negative about your business, give the responsibility of responding to reviews to an employee whose judgment you trust. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with Yelp’s content guidelines, so if someone’s comments cross the line, you can flag it for review.
Engage in the conversation
Social engagement is important to your business. Responding to reviews, while not as much fun as tweeting or posting on Facebook, is a form of social engagement. When someone writes something on Yelp that you don’t agree with, comment on it honestly, bearing in mind that your post will be around for a very long time. Remember, your comments should aim toward building a relationship with your customers. Listen to what the reviewer has to say and do your best to genuinely address their concerns. Look at a negative review as an opportunity to develop your skills at reputation management online. Use Yelp to gather information and solve problems with your business you might not have seen otherwise. If you get multiple reviews around the same issue, feel free to ask questions in your responses to help clarify the source of the problem. One more tip: respond to the positive reviews, too. Take the time to thank people who say good things about your business. Customers appreciate knowing their opinion matters to you.
You want your business to be successful for the long haul. Success rarely happens over night. By taking time to write reviews, your customers have shown an interest in your business. When you respond honestly, they will begin to view you as trustworthy and likable–two perceptions you want to encourage because they show you care about your customers. When customers like your product and feel that the owner cares, they will become enthusiastic advocates for your business.
Yelp can be a great way to get the word out and keep new customers coming in, but even the most successful businesses can have off days. Bad reviews are going to happen, and even though it might seem like nothing you say can help, the way you respond is your opportunity to show you care. Read your customers’ reviews, take them seriously, and respond thoughtfully. Reputation management online takes patience and consistency, but the payoff of loyal customers out there spreading the good word about your business is well worth it.