Look, you're not going to like this, but we have to tell you.
You know Yelp, that online review site you pretend not to know about because maybe if you ignore it, it will go away? That blasphemous app that you decided you'd just take a peek at the other day, just to see if there was anything noteworthy or insightful, perhaps even a compliment because you're having a bad day, and when you tap it on your phone, you scroll to latest reviews ONLY to find out that two people, both of whom you talked to when they were at your place of business just moments earlier, those SAME two people who voiced their concerns to you and even though they were upset at first, you, being the savvy business owner that you are, made it right - you even asked them to come back so you can treat them extra special the next time - and then they left with a smile and everything was fine, THOSE two people, EACH of whom just gave you a ONE STAR review, and not only that, they completely ignored the hospitality you showed them and instead, made you look like a total monster!?
Ohhh, that Yelp.
Here's what you don't want to hear: Yelp matters to your business.
We know this rant well, and we feel your frustration. It's not fair. You work hard to provide an exceptional experience and exceed customer expectations, and in return, you sometimes get treated like shit. Someone has just stomped all over your livelihood - the one thing you've put all your blood, sweat, tears and cash in, as if you don't wake up every single day fully aware that one bad review is all it can take to break you. You want to scream at this reviewer for taking their complaints online... why on earth wouldn't you do everything in your power not to let that happen?
We're with you. While it's incredibly infuriating, and makes you want to throw a plate (we've seen a plate thrown post Yelp Review discovery), you must rise above. You're going to have to test yourself and go where many a small business owner has never gone (still - despite Yelp having over 100,000,000 unique views in the past 30 days alone).
You're going to have to respond.
Here are 4 things to motivate you while you think about what you're going to say, and encourage you to spend a little more time on Yelp:
1. Not responding is akin to you finding the most visible place in your business, waiting until it's most packed with people, and then screaming and yelling at a customer who just voiced their opinion, except on Yelp, it's the silence that's deafening.
Did #1 just piss you off even more? Apologies. Let's look at the glass half full now:
2. Instead of thinking how many people see something negative about your business, think about those same thousands of people who see that you've cared enough to address it. Even if the complaint is minor, and even if you've already done so IRL (in real life). And, since so few of us actually do take the time, you'll stand out in the crowd. That's memorable. By responding, you've taken the power away from the reviewer, regardless if the complaint was warranted or not, and you've changed the conversation to end on a positive note. You go, you!
3. You can ask Yelp for a Re-Review if you find that it may violate Yelp's Content Guidelines. Oftentimes, Yelp will remove it if you make your case. Here's some content that they may help you remove:
- Personal information about employees, statements regarding employment practices or something otherwise not relevant to the customer experience.
- Threats, harassment, hate speech.
- Reviews referencing an experience not had by the reviewer himself. "My sister went here and this place sucks.", etc. We'll have none of that.
4. While it may be a constant battle between Yelp and Google, you can be sure that your Yelp listing is one of the first search results to appear when someone googles you. Similarly, it is also the default listing that appears in your Apple iPhone search results when users are looking for something relative to your business (see photo).
This is a good thing!
It means you can be found at the exact moment a potential customer is looking for you. And the more you engage on the platform (and no, you don't need to advertise on it, but they'll keep calling you to), the more active your listing becomes, the more business for you!
Now, we don't expect that this post just 180'd your position on Yelp. We're just trying to say that if you let it, it can be a valuable tool for your business. But, it's just that. A tool. Don't overreact to what people say, don't obsess over it, but do use it to uncover what may be some insightful trends. Respond when you can, especially if there's an opportunity to change the conversation from negative to positive. There's just too much to gain by doing so!
If you need any help with how to deal with online reviews, you know who to call. In the meantime, we'll be reading about these reindeer Domino's Japan is using to deliver pizza*, to see if they'll make a stop here in Charleston. (see same photo)
*not a creativ idea, but we dig it.