Should you respond to negative Yelp reviews?

With changes in the social web and Google’s own search algorithm, like it or not, Yelp has become an important resource for consumers when making buying decisions. I would argue it can be a very beneficial resource if you manage your Yelp reviews correctly.

Issue 1 is to encourage your audience to review you. We know from online research that 46% of consumers trust customer-written online reviews. This can be done by including links to your Yelp listing in your email, newsletter, website, etc. Once you have multiple reviews you can add the Yelp badge to your marketing material, which will drive even more participation.

So what are the pitfalls?

If you don't have any reviews or you have never even looked up your Yelp listing, the affects of one negative rating can really hurt your business. You may not know it, but many visitors can add salt to the wound by clicking that the review was helpful. So if you have a single 1-star review and no other client comments, that can be a big negative for your brand reputation. It is better to be out in front of this and get positive reviews on your account that easily balance out any negative comments. For the most part, I only see 4- and 5-star reviews for most of our CPA and tax accounting clients. We occasionally see times where professionals go through rough spots or had a run in with one upset client and have received the dreaded 1-star review.

So how do you respond to a negative review?

You could do nothing.... But that lets the reviewer control the storyline. Humans have bad days. They have misunderstandings. But responding to the negative feedback will in most cases make the situation go away. Yelp allows business owners who have added a photo of themselves the ability to respond either publicly or privately. Each approach can backfire if not handled carefully. Most likely, you will be able to work out the issues, and most reviewers will change their response based on your proactive conversation. It the upset client cannot be accommodated by any action, at least you have made an effort, and if your response is public, you have showed your side of the story. Regardless, if you counter the negative review with several 5-star reviews, it will marginalize the negative opinion. Most visitors have met the malcontent in their own lives. So they totally understand that you can't make everyone happy 100% of the time.

Yelp Support Center Tips

Yelp provides some helpful tips and approaches needed when responding to Yelp reviews. Really think it over before you write. Make sure you step into the reviewer’s shoes. But whatever you do, don't panic. One or two negative reviews can easily be overcome and learned from. Maybe you have a hole in your process or need to be more attentive to client inquiries. The social web will let you know fast enough. It makes sense to at least search Yelp to see where you stand.

  • Lee Reams II

  • I am a marketing junkie who has spent the last 20 years developing and executing "best in class" word-of-mouth marketing campaigns. With over 10,000 happy clients I think we are on to something. The explosion in web marketing and social media have redefined the way independent professionals market their practices. Follow my blog to see if you can take some of our actionable ideas to market your own practice.

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