Yelp! is a bittersweet website that can either be a boon to your business or a thorn in your side. Though users see it as a way to find the highest quality products and services while avoiding lemons, Yelp! looks a lot different from the perspective of the business owner.
It cannot be denied that Yelp! not only directly affects the number of leads and new customers, but also that it has the power to completely tank a small business. No business is perfect, and once in a while you may find that you receive negative reviews online – but there are some do’s and don’ts that you should be aware of.
With that said, let’s take a closer look at some actionable steps you can take to deal with negative Yelp! reviews.
Take Time to Fully Analyze Your Reviews
Due to our fast-paced lifestyles and the tsunami of information hurdled at us each day in the form of digital content, it’s easy to develop the habit of skimming content as fast as possible. However, you need to take the time and fully digest everything said in your negative review. Why? Because the dissatisfied customer (assuming the review is genuine and not fake or petty and vindictive) might be uncovering a pain point you were blind to, which you can use to improve your product or service.
It should be your goal to provide the best customer experience as possible, and correcting a bad experience has the potential to proselytize a new customer to your cause. When your customers feel that you personally did everything in your power to take care of them, they are more apt to engage in the most powerful form of advertising: word of mouth.
Dig Deep and Research the Reviewer
It isn’t always possible to gauge how genuine or dishonest a review is. Reviewers sometimes choose to leave reviews for reasons other than an honest critique of a business, such as the following:
- Petty squabbles
- To drive customers away
There are many other reasons a reviewer might try to dump vitriol on your business’s reputation too. At any rate, my point is that you shouldn’t always take a review at face value – instead, grow thick skin and take it with a grain of salt.
Before getting too worked up, do a little digging and see what other comments the reviewer has posted on Yelp! to suss out the user’s intent. For instance, if you notice the user routinely leaves negative comments for businesses all around the world, it’s likely they’re getting paid to write negative reviews.
Don’t Be Petty and Don’t Take Bait from a Troll
I find it pretty darn interesting how human behavior changes to bullying on the Internet, where people use anonymity as a shield. I’ve seen trolls online make comments the poster would never dare to say to someone’s face in real life. Unfortunately, trolling is just an inherent part of the Internet.
If your business has any significant digital presence online, you’re going to run into trolling attempts sooner rather than later – but don’t give rise to their negativity. If you take the bait and lash out, you’re playing right into the troll’s hands and giving them exactly what they want.
Provide Respectful Feedback
It could be that a negative review is genuine from the point of the customer, though you, as the business owner, feel you need to stick to your guns because the customer is in the wrong. If you believe that to be the case, then be extremely careful about how you respond. Everyone loves to be right, but people generally don’t like hearing that they’re wrong.
Instead of being rude and disrespectful, take a few deep breaths, calm down, and choose your words with care. Don’t point fingers, but rather take the time to respectfully explain your position and why you (or your employees) behaved or reacted the way they did. For example, if a customer complains their waitress cheated them and didn’t provide a large enough portion, you could explain that it’s restaurant-policy to provide X-ounces of food for every portion.
Respond to True Negative Reviews with Care
You may also find, from time to time, that a negative review rolls in that your business actually deserves. When this happens, it is advantageous to address the review, though don’t bend over backward for the user. If you give up too much ground, it can make you look like a weak pushover.
Nevertheless, offer a small apology (but don’t gush) and look for a solution to remedy the situation. Also, take the time to explain how you will ensure that the problem doesn’t happen again in the future. For instance, if a customer engaged in a fight with one of your employees, you could explain that you remedied the situation by letting that employee go.
You may not always know how far the negative reviewer will take things, and they may be prepared for all-out war. If you feel the suspicion the negative reviewer is simply out to damage your business, it might be time to take things offline.
Instead of a heated exchange of ping-pong that leaves flack and vitriol online for everyone to see, you may be able to make progress by speaking face-to-face. Be forewarned, however: if the negative reviewer left hateful and threatening remarks, it might be better just to ignore them. Meeting them in person could present danger.
No small business is perfect, and even if you do everything to the best of your abilities, know that it isn’t possible to please everyone. You’re going to run into negative reviews from time to time, and the grace (or lack thereof) with which you handle the situation speaks volumes about your integrity.
Nevertheless, if you don’t know how to monitor and maintain your business’s digital presence, you could be in for a world of hurt. Instead of completely ignoring what people are saying about you on Yelp! and social media channels, reach out for the help of a qualified professional for digital marketing aid.