Have you checked your Yelp reviews lately? Have you received a less than favorable review from a customer? Have you fired any employees (hurry and check your reviews). Wish you could get rid of that negative Yelp review? If yes, then read on.
Make no mistake, in the web 2.0 era and the social media boom, customers will freely speak their minds and publish their opinions about your business whether they are fair or not. And unfortunately it seems the angry customer wants to tell many more people than a satisfied customer.
I recently reviewed an Adwords campaign from a dental client and in a short time frame he had received 8 clicks and 42 impressions on queries with the word “review” or “reviews” in it related to his brand or service type. Now this was a small campaign, but nonetheless when one client could be worth thousands of dollars he could have lost 8 or more large clients because he wasn’t managing his Yelp reviews. And believe me when I say, your future customers are checking your reviews before they buy from you.
58% of Americans have researched a product or service online.
Pew Internet and Life Project
24% of American adults say they have posted comments or reviews online.
Pew Internet and Life Project
And the Pew study is two years old. Those numbers are far greater today.
The Review Reality
The semi bad news is that, regardless if you’re a Yelp advertising customer or not, the only way you can get rid of bad Yelp reviews is if the review itself is deemed inappropriate by the Yelp staff, in which case you can have it flagged as inappropriate and it will be reviewed. What is inappropriate you ask? Someone using four-letter words, or personally attacking you or the business and slandering you generally falls under inappropriate, but there are shades of gray in that interpretation. If you’ve ever had to fire an employee you’ve probably had someone anonymously leave a scathing review of you and/or your business. Nonetheless, you can’t get rid of a negative review just because it doesn’t represent your business in the best light–sorry!
Action You Can Take
There is hope though if you have some nasty Yelp reviews hanging out there. The single best tactic you can employ is to provide outstanding customer service to all your customers so you are consistently getting positive 4-5 star reviews. I know that probably seems obvious, but the reality is if you are consistently getting 3 stars or lower there’s something wrong operationally with your business.
Regardless, being proactive in asking for reviews from your customers is the single best tactic you can implement to bury bad reviews.
How to be proactive with reviews:
- First claim your business on Yelp so you can respond to reviews asap. Customers don’t expect you to have all 5-star ratings, but they do expect a reputable company to promptly respond to negative reviews in a professional manner.
- Print business cards out that have your Yelp address on them and hand them out to select customers. You could even incentivize them with some sort of discount for a review provided they print out the review and bring it in on their next visit — don’t worry, not many people will write a negative review, print it out, visit your business again and present it to you for a discount. And if your Yelp URL for your business is too long, use a URL shortener.
- Email your best customers and ask them for a review, and again you can incentive them with a discount of some sort.
- Develop POP material that creates awareness inside your store or restaurant that encourages reviews and check-ins.
- And finally, video customer testimonials: keep a video camera around and ask your best customers to give you a short testimonial that you can then upload to your company’s YouTube channel, and have it optimized for search engines of course.
There are some caveats to the strategy of actively seeking reviews from customers. Yelp discourages business owners from actively soliciting reviews and states that most likely the reviews will be filtered out anyway. I have been told that the reviews may show eventually, and then they may disappear yet again; it all depends on the algorithm they have put into place. Yelp does have a heavy-handed algorithm and I’ve seen them filter out most new reviews for some businesses. Regardless, not doing anything and hoping you get some positive reviews is like waiting for rain in a drought. The best situation is having clients that already have a Yelp account and have done reviews in the past, but since these customers are few and far between, just ask all your good customers.
But wait! There’s more — I developed presentation about managing bad online reviews.
What are your experiences with Yelp reviews? Have you actively pursued reviews from your customers?