Lately Yelp has been getting a lot of bad press. It’s being sued by a number of business owners who believe that Yelp has purposefully manipulated its review rating system to favor paying advertisers or penalize those who do not choose to advertise. In short, bad reviews are featured (allegedly) unless you pay (ie. advertise with them) to have them removed.

Whether or not this is true is up for debate and debating this is unlikely to help you out much. The fact of the matter is that Yelp, Trip Advisor and the like are big players for B2C businesses and cannot be ignored. Understanding how they work and how to handle bad reviews can help you use them to your advantage instead of disadvantage.

Handling bad reviews on yelp

Take the High Road

When responding to negative reviews, remember to be empathetic and calming. Negative reviews can often feel like a personal hit; it’s important to not let your emotions dictate your response. Don’t attempt to defend yourself unless necessary. Offer to mend the situation whenever possible.

No matter what, do not engage them negatively or get caught up in the back and forth. Doing so publicly only tarnishes your reputation further. Accept the negative feedback graciously or do not respond at all.

Give Reviewers a less public outlet to be heard

More often than not, a negative nancy reviewer just wants to be heard. For whatever reason they feel wronged and they are looking for an outlet or a place to vent. If possible, give the reviewer a less public outlet for his/her frustrations such as a direct email or phone number. Knowing they have been heard often dissipates a lot of the anger and frustration. Having someone hear them and respond to their complaints is often enough to change the mind of a negative reviewer.

Handling negative reviews on yelp

Facilitate Good Reviews

Positive reviews can help hide some of the negative reviews. How can you make it easy for people to leave positive reviews? While it is not recommended to “buy” positive reviews, you can encourage users to review (again- without influencing their opinion). Print out cards with a QR code to review sites, include your social media sites on your website or any printed material. Follow up a visit with a link to review and a coupon.

Like water on a duck’s back…

The internet gives people anonymity, and allows them to say things they would never say to a person’s face. Some people just enjoy giving poor reviews. It’s a fact of life. Most users understand this and know that one negative review doesn’t represent the whole of the business. When positive attempts to make someone happy don’t work, move on.

More info…
72% of users trust online reviews

Hotel charges $500 for negative reviews.