Combatting Bad Reviews on Yelp!

Featuring your business on Yelp! and other online review sites is a necessary piece of the internet marketing puzzle, but when a bad review starts to sour your business, how do you save your business?

You’ve launched your small business and proudly started to market it online. You’ve launched a website and you’ve started to build your profile on a number of other sites online including Yelp!, the internet’s most popular review site, and BAM, out of nowhere, a bad review.

It’s typical to want to hide and go through the typical stages of grief:

Photo by Mindaugas Danys
Photo by Mindaugas Danys

“This review doesn’t mean anything. They don’t know what they’re talking about. No one is going to see it.”

“How dare they? They don’t know what they’re talking about? They’re out to sabotage me and my business.”

“Maybe if I call Yelp! and explain the situation they’ll remove the review for me.”

“My business is over! No one will ever buy anything from me again. I should just pack up and move to a new state.”

“People will be people – I’m bound to get a mix of good and bad reviews.”

Acceptance is a dangerous place to end up when you cycle through the five stages. The fact is, bad reviews can definitely impact your business, especially among 30-45 year olds. Millennials and Gen Xers, the emerging group of maturing consumers with increasing income, rely heavily on internet reviews before making purchasing decisions according recent market research. A proactive response to negative reviews is your key to turning negative reviews into a good thing for your business.

A Good Thing? Are you kidding?
No, I’m not joking. In the old days of marketing, companies spent tons of money and time trying to collect honest feedback on their products and services so they can work to make their company better and stronger. Now, the Internet provides that feedback for us for free. It’s public, but nonetheless the information useful.

Here’s you save your business and turn those lemons into lemonade:

1. Honestly examine the content of the review.
This is a tough step especially if you have a lot of pride in your business, which most of us do. Take a deep breath and step outside of yourself for a moment and calmly examine the review for its good and bad points.

2. Examine your products, pricing and how you deliver your products.
The first three P’s of the marketing mix are Product, Pricing and Placement (distribution) . . . the heart of your business. Usually, if you’re encountering several poor reviews online, you’ve got an issue with one of these three P’s that needs to be fixed. That’s when you can use these online reviews as an opportunity to improve your business. Getting poor reviews about your product or service? Perhaps your product/service is flawed – if so, time to go back to the drawing board and make serious fundamental changes. Are your prices are too high? Consumers rarely complain about low prices, and perhaps you miscalculated your price positioning based on the competition. Complaints about product delivery or customer service? Your product placement/distribution needs a tune up. Time to look at your overall distribution model and implement new training.

3. Reply to the comment as soon as you can.
Don’t let your bad reviews burn a hole into your online reputation. Websites like Yelp! and customer reviews on places like Amazon.com are there to provide transparency for the consumer. Show the consumer you understand this by replying publicly to the review online in a calm and respectful manner. Address the issue and how you plan to resolve it. Most people will be impressed with your willingness to interact and find a solution that they often repost a positive review later or remove their negative review. Either way, a potential customer is likely to see your response while browsing the reviews and will be able to shrug off the negativity if they see the owner cares.

Online reviews are a part of the new era in marketing. Take advantage of the extra exposure and relish in the results.