How to Fix a Negative Yelp Review
Bad Yelp reviews happen. Maybe your employees had an off day, maybe you were sold out of what the customer was looking for, maybe an accident happened, or maybe the customer was just looking for an excuse, and nothing you could have done would have changed that. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with negative Yelp reviews, and the potential damage they can do to your business.
1) Keep Calm — The Phoenix New Times blog has the story of a restaurateur who wrote an angry reply to a bad review, and ended up looking defensive and rude. So the first thing to do about a bad review is nothing. Close your browser, go do some other work, and come back to it after you’ve had a chance to collect yourself. If possible, make a separate list of the complaints that a bad review makes. Pull up the customer’s sale and talk to the employees involved to get the facts.
2) Consider the Source — Yelp has a sophisticated algorithm to rank and filter reviews and the users who write them. If the user is new, or has written a lot of negative critiques, or is ranked poorly by other users, their reviews will sink toward the bottom of the pile, and are unlikely to be seen. If you think your bad review has been written by a rival business owner, disgruntled employee, or internet troll, you can alert Yelp, which may result in having the review removed. But don’t try that unless you are relatively sure.
3) Reach Out — If the bad review was written by a serious Yelp user (which you can tell from her number of reviews and rank), try contacting them directly through their Yelp account. Apologize for the bad experience (even if you think they are wrong), and offer to make things right. Invite them back, offer them a deal (no freebies, you don’t want to encourage freeloaders), and tell them to ask for you personally. This kind of personal attention can really change a person’s opinion of a business. If you manage to impress them the second time around they can delete the original review, and could even write a new one about your excellent customer service.
4) Listen — Sometimes you deserve a bad review. External criticism can point out problems that we didn’t know we had. If the reviewer makes a good point, you can address the problem and post a reply to that effect. Just be sure to be honest. You have seen those non-apology apologies from corporate executives and scandalized politicians, and you can see right through them. Acknowledge that the reviewer made a good point, and be detailed about how you addressed it. Your customers will respect your honesty, willingness to admit your mistakes, and especially your desire to improve your service, and if you still need further help contact a local reputation management firm.
While you can’t avoid bad Yelp reviews, you can avoid making the situation worse by either ignoring it or overreacting to it. You should see bad reviews the same way you see everything: as an opportunity to demonstrate your customer service skills and grow your business.