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How to Deal With a Negative Review on Yelp!

September 19th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

If your small business is a restaurant, retailer, salon or bar—the type of business that relies on local customers and word-of-mouth—you’ve probably had some experience with review and ratings site Yelp!. How much weight do Yelp! reviews carry with consumers? A study by University of California, Berkeley, economists, reported on Mashable.com, found that an improvement of just half a star in a restaurant’s Yelp! ratings can increase business by nearly 20 percent during peak dining hours.

If you haven’t already listed your business on Yelp!, I hope this inspires you to do so. But is fear of negative reviews holding you back? After all, if half a star of improvement can boost business 20 percent, half a star of declining ratings could cut into your business, couldn’t it?

Negative reviews are a reality, on Yelp! or any other ratings and review site. It’s how you deal with them that matters. Here are some tips to help you get a grip—and keep your customers coming back.

First, remain calm. It’s human nature to get defensive when reading a bad review—especially if you feel it’s undeserved or if the reviewer seems to be a little unhinged. However, bashing the reviewer won’t get you anywhere—and in fact, will probably backfire by making you look bad to the other customers and prospective customers reading the exchange.

Talk to your employees about the review to see if you can figure out what happened and if the customer has cause for complaint. You can respond to reviews publicly or privately. Start by posting a brief, public response thanking the person for his or her comments (so other users can see you aren’t ignoring the review). Then respond to the reviewer privately to offer solutions or get more information about the situation.

Often, customers who are upset simply want to be heard and acknowledged, and in most cases, starting a personal dialogue with the person will be enough to defuse the issue. If you find you’re in an escalating situation with an irrational customer who keeps posting about your business, however, the best strategy is to disengage and trust that other readers will draw their own conclusions about the legitimacy of the complaints. You don’t want to get dragged into an online screaming match.

Consider negative Yelp! reviews as a learning opportunity to discover problems with your business and find solutions. No business can please everyone, so if you’ve done all you can to address an issue, it’s time to back off.

Image by Flickr user William Brawley (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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Posted in Branding, Customer Service, Marketing, sales process, Search Marketing, Small Business, small business, Social Media, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

  • Sian Phillips

    I think it is very important to deal with any negative comments in a timely manner until it is resolved as best it can be – it can escalate if ignored as you mentioned. Thanks for sharing on Bizsugar.com

  • KDB Wedding

    It is LAUGHABLE that you are advertising this article as if you care even a tiny bit about your customers or your ratings….have you ever READ your reviews on facebook???? There is 1 good comment…1!
    This company is the WORST! First they double charged me, and that took me 45 minutes to finally get someone to understand what happened and fix it (My refund will take 8-10 days ! But damn if they were’nt ready to take it!)
    Then, they will not even allow me to build a website on the domain name I PURCHASED FROM them!
    Calling customer service is a total joke, it is almost impossible to reach anyone….and if you do, I sure hope you have at least 27 minutes to wait on hold while they forget about you. (That’s all I could take, I had to hang up). My many, many e-mails to customer service have gon unanswered and unacknowledged.
    This is all in a 4-day period, mind you. I want a refund of 100% of everything I have given them….they can even take the domain name back. The company is awful! I never want to deal with them again.
    And yes, my company also uses them…and yes, we also will cease doing business with this crappy company.

    • Anonymous

      Sorry to hear about your experience, KDB Wedding. Please send your domain name, contact info, and the details of your comment to the Network Solutions support team so they can follow up with you: http://www.networksolutions.com/contact/index.jsp. Thanks for your help.