How to Handle Negative Yelp Reviews

If you own a business, you know that your online review reputation on sites like Yelp are critical to the success of your shop. While positive reviews help improve your rating and build your brand, a negative review can have an adverse effect, especially if it is ignored or responded to incorrectly.

Yelp will remove negative reviews if they contain profanity or use a threatening tone, or if it specifically names certain employees or calls them out by a distinguishing or sensitive characteristic such as race, religion or body type. They will not, however, remove reviews they see as legitimate (even if they are negative), so if they do not meet one of these criteria, the review will likely stay active and will not be removed.

So, what should you do if you receive a negative Yelp review?

  1. Don’t panic! The first step is to remain calm and remember that nobody is perfect and bad reviews happen to everyone - the key is how you react. Consumers don’t expect perfection, but they do expect you to handle the reviews in a professional manner.

  2. Respond to the reviewer in a timely manner. Time is not your friend when it comes to addressing complaints or bad reviews. You do not want to make an already upset customer wait on you and you should always keep in mind that the public is forming an opinion based on your reply.

  3. Kill them with kindness. I know this could be the toughest, but again, your response is what you are being judged by. Reach out with empathy, swallow your pride and kill ‘em with kindness. Try to generate a phone conversation, listen to their concerns and reply with a solution that speaks to what the customer is looking to hear. Remember, at this point, they have a post, we (you) need it removed. Your conforming will only help you in the long run.

  4. Do not make excuses. The customer has posted an issue. Address and speak with them and hopefully, after a positive discussion, you can politely request they reconsider the poor review with the following statement you may try (be sure your customer service team has this all memorized):

Thank you for allowing me to make this right. Ms. Jones, I just want you to know that we take our online reputation very seriously, it's the lifeline of our business. If I resolved your issue to your satisfaction and started earning back your trust, I hope you will reconsider and update your amendable comment. (What you have said here is that they can make changes. Trust me, you don't have to ask to reconsider the rating as it is implied)

 Remember, YOU WILL get a bad review occasionally, it is going to happen and by seeing this, it shows your reviews are all real. There are companies out there that speak to the owners and offer a way for clients to leave a review. If it's negative, they send an email to the owner and if positive, they send to Yelp and/or Google. This only looks good to the owner when being sold. The truth is, this is not helping your business and Google does not endorse or promote these efforts. I would never take a chance here.

Finally, if you do reach out to the customer who left the bad review and they refuse to change it, the best course of action is to bury it with several good reviews. The best way to go about this is by reaching out to 5 or 6 satisfied customers and simply asking for a Yelp review. This will bump the poor listing down and we can all learn from our mistakes and get back to doing business.

Did you know that if you are not an active (paying) Yelp customer, you likely have competitors ads in the middle of your listing? Bloomerang Solutions can help you remove those ads and manage your Yelp account and respond to reviews so you can focus on your business. Give us a call today at (941) 806-1911 and let us know how we can help your business bloom!

-Art