Without doubt, Yelp is a great marketing tool for businesses. Positive reviews from satisfied customers can lead growth to skyrocket. Glowing recommendations will surely lead to more business. But, unfortunately, every business will have to deal with inevitable negative reviews. A harsh criticism posted on Yelp is broadcast to the world, potentially scaring away customers and hurting sales. Even the best run businesses have to eventually deal with these dreaded one or two star reviews. But what is the best way to handle these damaging criticisms?
First and foremost, it is vital to remain collected and calm. Don’t let emotion make you do something that will hurt your business. You never want to engage in virtual combat. When it comes to battling angry reviewers on the internet, even if you win, you still lose. No matter if their review is off- base, misinformed, or just totally wrong, attacking a reviewer with harsh language or rude dismals is never right. Not only will it likely provoke the complaining party more, the resulting war of attrition will be embarrassingly displayed to all. So when you see that negative review, take a pause and remember your manners. A thought out, level-headed approach is required.
After controlling your emotions, it’s time to rationally analyze the complaint. You should read the negative review closely and pay attention to the details. Does the review have merit? Can you explain why their experience was unsatisfactory? Have you gotten similar complaints before? Remember that negative reviews are not worthless. They can provide you with valuable feedback on ways to improve your business. However, if a review is totally baseless, a personal attack, or totally inappropriate, it will likely violate Yelp’s “terms of service.” You can contact them and report the problem complaint. Often, they will quickly and totally remove the offending review.
After analyzing the complaint, it’s time to respond. Letting a negative review go totally unchallenged will give it more validation. Assuming you have a free business account with Yelp (if not, it is a good idea to establish one) you can use Yelp’s “review response tools” to respond to customers. You have the option of either replying publicly or privately. While a private direct message to a reviewer works in many cases, a more public response is also a great idea. It shows visitors to your Yelp page that you are engaged and working to improve. You can explain the issue and take the sting out of the negative review. Your responses should be apologetic, but not overly so. Realize what part of their complaint is really your fault and which part is totally out of your control. You can’t make everyone happy. Sometimes “I’m sorry you feel that way” is the best you can do. Next, clearly explain the issue in question and then the give a solution. This is key – show you take customers opinions seriously and are improving your business. An optional idea would be to, in a direct message, personally extend an invitation to a disgruntled customer, and incentivize them with a discount or other incentive to visit your business again. Who knows, a bad reviewer may just turn into a satisfied customer.
Hopefully, these tips will help you deal with inevitable negative reviews. Remember to remain calm, listen to their complaints, and attack the problem. Realize you can’t please everyone, but customer feedback still matters. Effectively responding to criticism will help ensure your Yelp page is an effective marketing tool for your business.