This week, I wanted to revisit the subject of Yelp. It’s been a while since I have posted about reviews in general, and I felt it would be useful to touch on the subject again. A few weeks back a client of mine had a 3rd party write a false Yelp review about his businesses due to a personal issue they had outside of the business. My client, for good reason, was agitated, but (as you may or may not know) Yelp will not remove a review like this, as it viewed as a ‘he said she said’ situation and they prefer not to get involved.

First, I want to remind everyone that ONE or even THREE bad reviews will not make or break your business; don’t waste your time or energy on these type of reviews. If you have multiple reviews reporting the same issues, try using that as a report card and start working to resolve those issues. Here’s the deal, give your customers and potential customers some credit, they are not idiots. Most people read a few 4 or 5-star reviews and a few 1 and 2 stars; this typically will give them a decent idea of what to expect when they visit a business.  One bad review will not sink your business.

That said, I think it’s important to monitor your reviews and to respond to most of them. Just remember that you don’t need to acknowledge the obviously crazy! Below are a few best practices on responding to reviews.

Let’s start with good reviews!
Most of the time business owners only want to respond to the bad review. WHY?? Someone took the time to write a helpful and positive review of your business, take a minute to thank them for coming and let them know you appreciate them.  It might be fun to share those reviews on your Instagram and Facebook stories.

I would also suggest thanking good reviews using a public response. This not only acknowledges the review writer but it also shows potential customers that you care and that you take the time to respond. Be thoughtful in your responses. I know it would be tempting to create a generic answer, but that doesn’t build a relationship or affinity for your brand.  Also, note that your responses are indexed and help you be found on yelp when customers are searching.

Now to the bad reviews:

I like to coach my clients to take a breath before beginning to respond in order to be more objective instead of reactive. These reviews do not need to be responded to in real time. Here are a few ground rules to consider:

1. Take 24 hours – How many times have you responded to an email that you wish you would have given yourself some time to get some space and perspective on? Apply that same rule here. As a small business owner your work is very personal to you. When someone is upset, it’s natural to want to give them an excuse or get into an argument about the review. Give yourself some time to separate yourself from the situation.

2. Investigate:  Use these 24 hours to find out what happened, whether it was an issue with an employee, food, etc.

3. Respond: Decide how you’d like to respond, publicly or privately.  In most cases we suggest responding privately to a negative Yelp review, you want to take the conversation offline as quickly as possible.

If a review is out of line, you can report it to Yelp and they have made it pretty easy to do so.
To report a review take the following steps:

  1. Login to your Yelp business account  
  2. Click on reviews on the left-hand corner scroll to the review
  3. Select the “…” report review you will have a choice of the following
    Contains false information
    It was posted by someone affiliated with the business
    It was posted by a competitor or ex-employee
    It contains threats, lewdness or hates speech
    It doesn’t describe the personal consumer experience
    It violates Yelp’s privacy standards
    It contains promotional material
    It’s the wrong business
    Here is a link to the content guidelines for yelp 

    Don’t get into the whole story of what happened; stick to the facts. It’s been my experience if you get into the story of what happens, the review will stand as Yelp does not get involved with ‘he said she said’ issues.

Remember there isn’t one magic pill that will make your business successful, but many elements such as quality product, good service, good reviews, social media etc. all help but one doesn’t make or break you. The only thing that can do that  is having bad service or a bad product.

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