Negative reviews are the pits. On Yelp, sometimes negative reviews are legitimate, while other times they are completely baseless remarks made by people who’ve never dealt with your business. So how can you manage the reviews? This post will get you started, but if you want even more in-depth information, read these tips before your fingers start flying across your keyboard:
Tip #1: Determine if the claim is legitimate or not.
If a claim is not legitimate, be polite with your response. Explain why you have concerns with the review (ex: “I think this reviewer is confusing us with someone else, since we are not open on Sundays, when they said they visited…”), but avoid accusing the person of a false review.
Tip #2: Reflect before publishing.
It can be a blow to our egos to receive a negative review, especially if the person is rude or mean. Before you fire off an equally nasty response, take some time to reflect. Remember, when people read reviews, they read your responses as well. For even more tips, check out this post about five types of comments you should never leave.
Tip #3: Apologize first, always.
Even if you disagree with the review, apologize for the negative experience. Now is not the time to get defensive! A simple “I’m sorry” can go a long way. As a side note, avoid saying anything like, “I’m sorry you feel that way…” which implies that the reviewer is at fault, rather than your business. (This post has even more information about dealing with mistakes.)
Tip #4: Don’t let comments go unanswered.
It can be really, really tempting to just ignore the negative comments. However, when others read these bad reviews and they are unanswered, it looks like you aren’t listening and don’t care. Even if your comment is simply and apology for the negative experience and, that’s better than no answer at all.
Tip #5: Let people have the last word.
Sometimes, people are really upset about silly things. Respond to negative comments, but recognize when people just need to have the last word. Yelp is not the place for a long back-and-forth. Which brings me to my next tip…
Tip #6: Include contact information.
When you respond to a negative comment, invite the reviewer to contact you privately so you can learn more about their experience and, if possible, resolve it so you either fix the problem or ensure it doesn’t happen again. You can’t make people contact you, but you can make this information available.
Tip #7: Make connections elsewhere.
Not everyone uses Yelp habitually. Some people sign up specifically to leave a negative review, then never check again. So, they might not see your response. If you can make a connection somewhere else, do it! Depending on the situation, sometimes a quick username search will bring up the person’s accounts on Twitter, Facebook, or other social networks. Reach out and apologize if possible.
Tip #8: Follow up, follow up, follow up!
Don’t just respond once and leave it at that. Follow up! While it’s important not to get into a back-and-forth with someone, a simple follow-up can show that you really care. For example, if someone left you a bad restaurant review and you gave them a free entrée voucher for their next visit, follow up a month later to see if they used it and if their experience was better.
Tip #9: Be a person, not an automated brand.
Don’t sign any comment “Customer Service” Or use a brand logo as a picture. Be an actual person. Use your name, and, as noted before, include your contact information. Never send a canned response. People appreciate when you’re real.
Tip #10: Focus on the positive.
Lastly, although it is important to answer negative reviews, don’t forget to give some love to positive reviewers. “Thank you” is almost as powerful as “I’m sorry,” and you want those people to not only come back, but to also tell their friends.