Why should my business be worried about negative Yelp reviews?
There has been a lot of work done behind the scenes recently, looking at the effects of online reviews on businesses, as well as how they affect consumer choice. Most recently, social scientists have found that although consumers use online review sites to inform their choices of product and service, businesses are often less interested in the reviews themselves.
According to professors at the Woodbury School of Business, they’re wrong to be ambivalent about it. They found that although almost 80% business owners believe that increased star ratings directly improve business revenue by at least 1%, as a group, they still don’t pay a great deal of attention to reviews.
And social scientist, Michael Luca, at the Harvard Business School, found last year that in fact, a single star rating increase – for example, going from 3.5 stars to 4.5 stars – raises revenue by between 5-10%. Unfortunately, this can also go the other way, and the connection between online reviews and a business’ bottom line is stronger than ever.
What can you do about negative Yelp reviews?
If your business seems to be getting a lot of negative Yelp reviews lately, or if you have noticed that your Yelp business entry has a lot of negative reviews at the top of the page, with better ones further down (or in the not recommended list), it may be worth seeing if it is possible to address the issues mentioned in the reviews. Particularly those problems that come up again and again.
Of course you can disagree with the points made in the reviews, but if more than one or two reviewers mention the same issues, it’s likely that they are problems that really do affect your business. If that’s the case, you may have to swallow hard and address the issue anyway. Even if the décor was something your late mother adored or if something you once loved may not be what your customers still expect.
What can you do about untrue negative Yelp reviews?
Dealing with untrue and malicious online reviews can be an exercise in diplomacy as well as negotiation. You may also be asked to jump through a number of hoops on occasion, but it may be possible for you to have an unfair or false review removed.
The main problem you have is proving to Yelp that the review is unfair, malicious, or otherwise false. Because reviewers are allowed by law to remain anonymous, it takes a special court order to ask Yelp to reveal them, and generally won’t be worth the expense. Most states quote the First Amendment, protecting freedom of speech, and if the review is someone’s opinion, then regardless of whether or not you consider it fair, you won’t be able to have it removed.
However, if the review is in fact a series of accusations, or worse still, carries explicit commentary about infestations, poor and unhygienic service, fraud on the part of the business, or any other potentially damaging and untrue ‘facts’, it can be considered for libel. Unfortunately, this is a long hard haul and may not come good for the business. The law is very much on the side of the reviewer in most states.
What else can I do to combat negative reviews on Yelp?
It’s worth remembering that there are other, newer review sites other than Yelp out there. Not just the old vanguard, like TripAdvisor and Google, but newer, younger systems that can really help your business.
iTrueReview is one of the new generation, and its style is very much in-the-moment and get-it-out-there. Customers using this type of review system can only leave their review while they’re in the business itself, so at least you know that any negative reviews are probably as truthful as possible.
The best thing about this style of new review system is the sheer quantity of reviews you get, and the fact that they are posted right across the web on more than one site. Because of this, you flood the Internet with many more positive than negative reviews, similar to what a reputation management company might do for you, but every single one of them is a genuine review from your actual customers.
Review systems like iTrueReview can drastically improve your business revenue based on the Harvard school findings alone, so if you’re getting a few damaging reviews on Yelp or TripAdvisor, at least you know that you have another medium to deal with malicious reviewers.