Yelp… The necessary evil, the frenemy of all business owners, a constant frustration. Is that how you or your team would describe your relationship with Yelp?
Many business owners have felt strong-armed by the review company to advertise to avoid your negative reviews from being shown. Or are you one of the businesses that Yelp 'filters' out your good reviews? Or even worse, when you do get reviews, are you flagged with "Consumer Alert."
What do you do? What can you do?
In a business that depends so heavily on referrals and word-of-mouth, bad reviews online can be detrimental. So what do you do when Yelp “filters” your good reviews, but leaves your bad ones? How do you avoid “Consumer Alerts”? We’ll answer some of the biggest questions we hear.
Use it or Ignore It?
We hear a lot of people who think the people at Yelp are just swindlers and should be ignored. We don’t think this is the case.
Do you need to advertise with them? No. Should you disregard them completely? No.
As a company, it is prudent to set up a free business account so you can monitor all the reviews that come in. Having a business owner reply to all the reviews (both positive and negative) shows good customer service.
Dealing with Bad Reviews
Word of mouth and referrals are essential for many businesses to succeed. Most people will take reviews into account, and even trust them as much as a recommendation from a friend. Negative reviews should be addressed when they come up. Simply replying and offering a solution can be enough to make a reader see whatever the negative reviewer was upset by is being resolved. People want to know they'll be taken care of if something goes wrong. If the comment is inflammatory, or offensive it could be against the review site’s Content Guidelines (See Yelp’s Content Guidelines here). You should report the review and ask for it to be removed.
How to Ask For Reviews
Yelp has a policy where if they think that reviews are being solicited they will put a “Consumer Alert” on your account for 90 days or until they believe the problem is solved. What does this mean though? Well basically if too many reviews come in all at once, they believe you may be giving an incentive to receive more reviews (which is NOT allowed). To avoid being flagged in this way, it’s best not to send an email to your entire customer base asking for reviews. Instead when a customer expresses gratitude, you can request a review from that individual. This will keep the number of reviews coming in lower than if you asked all your customers to review at once.
Should I Advertise?
Ahhh... The big question… We’ve heard mixed reviews about the “bias” in how Yelp shares reviews based on if the company is an advertiser or not an advertiser. From what we can tell, your sales representative will be very willing to help your profile be the best it can be, but we do not believe they only show good reviews if you “pay to play”. There is no RISK in not advertising at Yelp, and you SHOULD use your sales representative to help you solve problems, even if you don't buy. On the other hand, advertising might be a good move for your company. Many people will come to Yelp to find a new plumber or electrician, so having your company show up first can be a big benefit to finding new customers. Deciding whether to include Yelp in your advertising budget is a business choice, but it’s not a deal breaker.
How can we help?
All of our apps (Field Nimble, Scout, Acquire, and SWRemote) have areas where you can make notes for Customer Relation Management (CRM). When customers leave a review (whether good or bad) you should make note, so you thank them for their kind words, or address any issues with them in person during the next job. This is also a place you can make note of if you have asked them for a review in the past. While you want reviews from your best customers, you may want to ask for a review in different ways if they don’t leave them.. OR ask for reviews on different platforms on different visits (Google Plus, Yelp, Facebook, etc)