Many business owners are afraid of the user review site Yelp, and for good reason. I've seen businesses with bad Yelp scores struggle, and even go out of business to get away from the bad reviews. Like it or not though, online reviews are here to stay. To survive, business owners need to change their practices to include proactive steps towards gaining positive reviews. They need to learn to use Yelp as a tool for growth, rather than hiding from it in fear.
So let's bust some Yelp myths:
1) Yelp is unfair. They are filtering all of my good reviews, and only showing the bad ones.
This commonly happens with small businesses. They have a few friends or regular customers who they ask to post a review. More often than not, these people are new to Yelp, only use it for this review, and therefore have no Yelp authority. Yelp's algorithm sees this as suspicious, and filters the review. The solution is to make asking to be reviewed, on Yelp or other review sites, a standard part of your customer relations process. The more people you ask, the more chance that one of them will be a diehard Yelper, and their 5 star review will stick.
2) If I get a bad review, responding will legitimize it, so I should just ignore it.
The bad review is already legitimized by being on Yelp. As a business owner you have a much different attitude towards Yelp than does someone reading your reviews to decide whether or not to do business with you. They are likely to take that one star review seriously, and if you don't give your side of the story, the reviewer's side will be all they have to go by.
3) Yelp is a bunch of BS. People don't take it seriously.
Many business owners see Yelp as a place for customers with unreasonable expectations to vent after not getting their way, or worse yet, a place for people to extort goods or services when they are unable to get them by other means. Both of these things bias business owners against Yelp. Yelp users are a different story. A recent study reported that over half of those surveyed used online reviews to select a service provider, and almost 3/4 of those people used Yelp.
4) If I pay for Yelp advertising, they will hide my 1 star reviews.
Yelp will not hide your bad reviews if you advertise with them. They will encourage you to respond to reviews in a constructive way. If you have a few one star reviews, chances are your customer relations could stand some improvement. Making the paradigm shift necessary to write a constructive response rather than flaming the reviewer is likely to be reflected in future customer interactions, and stop future 1 star reviews from happening.
What has been your experience with Yelp? Please leave a comment.