We often hear business owners frustrated at the negative reviews that are posted on their business pages on Yelp. “I have many happy customers, but Yelp will not show those reviews!” is a common protest. When asked how they get those “good” reviews, owners often mention they ask “happy” customers to post a review on Yelp (sometimes for a small discount or offer of some sort).
Why aren’t my “good” reviews showing?
“Solicited reviews are less likely to be recommended by our automated software, and that will drive you crazy” are the exact words from Yelp’s Support Center. Although they use a complex algorithm, what can happen is that reviews from Yelpers with more “influence” are more likely to show, than reviews from Yelpers that are considered less influential, or even “fake”, by having provided only one or two reviews. Yelp’s algorithm assumes that people that tend to review many places and give both positive and negative reviews are less likely to be “fake” reviews. In other words, if you get a happy customer to logon, create an account, and provide a good review for your business, Yelp is not likely to show that review.
So, what can you do if you have bad reviews?
Reputation management is a common term that refers to helping a business/person improve their online image– bad Yelp reviews are a good example of reputation management.
If you find that you need to improve your reputation on Yelp, here are a few things you can do:
1) Respond. Instead of getting angry and defensive, put yourself in the shoes of the customer and reply to them. Apologize for their experience and offer a solution if possible. You can offer them to come back and give them a discount, or a free service. At a minimum, express your sincere concern for what they feel they went through. If you do that, hopefully a future reader will at least see that you care for your customers and are taking the steps necessary to improve customer experience.
2) Show the review to your staff. Use the bad review as an opportunity to train your staff. Even if the customer was “not right” perhaps your staff could have handled the situation differently. An experienced customer service employee is probably used to handling difficult situations, but many times, employers have to hire junior staff that could benefit from training in how to handle demanding or challenging customers.
3) Understand the root of the problem. In order to prevent the problem from happening again, you have to understand what caused the tough situation in the first place. Was the customer waiting for a long time for service? Were they inadvertently misled by information you provided? Where they treated with lack of courtesy? Did the product you offered lacked the quality you strive to deliver? Being honest about your business operations is the only way to improve.
4) Implement a solution. Once you’ve understood the root of the problem, implement a solution. Perhaps you can give your staff some training, perhaps you need to hire additional help, or maybe you can put checklists for your personnel?
5) Monitor results. Any process improvement has to be followed by monitoring. If the issue continues to persist, meaning, you continuously get people complaining about the same problem, then go back to understanding the root of the problem and continue to try different solutions until you resolve it.
6) Use Google. Many owners “get stuck” on Yelp reviews, but they forget about Google Reviews. Many more people have Google accounts (gmail accounts) and therefore it’s easier for people to submit Google reviews. Google reviews show up next to your business listing after a local search and can improve click-through-rate (CTR) of your listing. Also, we conducted a consumer survey of 545 people and found that more people chose Google as the Top Review Site as more influential than Yelp.
7) Continue to gather reviews – both on Yelp and on Google. Make sure there is a link from your site to both of your business pages (Yelp and Google). You can also hand out business cards with the URL of your business page on Yelp and Google, that create awareness of your Yelp and Google pages.
You can also read more about managing bad reviews here.
The reality is that, online reviews are becoming more and more important to people. Reviews are being read not only by potential clients, but also by potential employees and even by potential investors.
Take charge of your online reputation, and remember, there is no silver bullet, the best way to improve online reputation is to genuine care for your customers and provide good customer satisfaction.
Read more about how reviews can help your business grow!