Negative Reviews and How To Deal With Them

what-do-i-do-with-my-bad-yelp-reviewYou just looked at your Yelp account, and you have a 1 star review!!! What do you do now?

a. Nothing and hope it goes away…

b. Pray that people will read the review carefully and see how psycho the reviewer actually is!

c. Answer the review with a comment from the business.

The answer is C. Always comment on your Yelp reviews, whether good or bad. People want to know their voices are being heard.

Unfortunately, we all have off days. So bad reviews are inevitable. A business can’t make all the people happy all the time. But it’s how you deal with those poor reviews that will make or break the interaction with that individual reviewer and your potential customer and Yelp reader. Here are some quick, easy tips for gracefully handling less than stellar reviews.

1. Try to make contact with the reviewer off line. Contact them via their private email and arrange a phone call. Listen to their complaint. Does it have any basis? Is there anything you could have done differently? What does the reviewer want, to be heard, a discount, a refund? Be empathetic to the reviewers complaint, and offer a discount or a gift certificate. This is an opportunity to see your business through the eyes of your customer and the opportunity to improve your business. The customer may not be right, but you do want them to be happy.

2a. Once you’ve contacted the reviewer, write a brief public comment. Let your potential clients and Yelp readers know the outcome of your conversation with the reviewer. If you saw the validity of the complaint, let people know that and what you’re going to do to keep the complaint from happening again. People who return after a bad review and have a delightful experience are highly likely to go back to their first review and write an update and increase their rating.

2b. If you were unable to get in touch with the reviewer, write a public comment. Tell your side of the story without being defensive. If the reviewer was complaining about a policy or procedure, you may want to explain why the policy is in place and its benefit to the customer. The most crucial point here is don’t take the criticism personally and be defensive. If you have a tendency to take things personally, write the comment on the review… leave it for a while and come back to it and reread it. Does it sound defensive or attacking? Can you get your point across to the reviewer, clearly? When it flows as easily as the comment “I had oatmeal for breakfast” you know it’s ready to be posted.

If you do write a public comment on a review and the original reviewer wants to comment on your comment. Their comment will be private and go directly to you. So you don’t have to be afraid there will be a tit-for-tat commenting on your Yelp review.

3. Ask your customers, who do love your business and your services to write reviews on your Yelp page. The more good reviews, the less the bad reviews will affect your overall rating. Find a way to ethically reward your customers for reviews, both good and bad.

Want some real life examples? Check out Cute Cakes in Escondido, CA. Their Yelp review is a strong 4 stars, yet they have some 1 star reviews. Jill is particularly adept at being able to see from the customers point of view and utilizing constructive criticism. Because she can’t personally taste every cupcake that leaves her business, (even though she’d like to), she counts on her Yelp reviews to update her on her products quality. She’s even changed her recipes because of her Yelp reviews. When Jill thinks that a reviewer is giving an unfavourable review just to keep from paying the full amount on a bill, she’ll go toe to toe with them. She is proud of her product and her staff (because she does eat so many cupcakes) and stands behind her product and staff.

Amy Hall is an Internet Marketing Specialist. She uses Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, blogging, review sites like Yelp and GooglePlaces and directories like, CitySearch, MerchantCircle and Manta in her internet marketing strategy. She helps businesses just like yours expand their internet presence and organically increase their search engine ranking. Give her a call at 619-770-7716 to see how she can help you and your business.

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