You might have heard “the kids” today talking about being a “boss” (which I think is code for getting really good at something). One thing I read about pretty often is that people are kind of scared of review sites in general and especially of the 800 pound gorilla of review sites, Yelp.
From my own personal conversations with people who are uncomfortable with Yelp, I think this discomfort has to do primarily with these three things:
- Nobody likes to be criticized about the work they are doing (especially if they are being criticized for work they really care deeply about doing). It is painful to hear that people don’t like your work.
- Nobody likes unfamiliarity. Every new site or system you have to learn has specific requirements and a social etiquette that can be hard to learn. It is hard to want to learn what you don’t already know when you already have hundreds of things competing for your time.
- Nobody likes online mysteries. There are rules to Yelp that are not always as transparent as new users might hope.
Anyway, here are some suggestions for moving from “frustrated by Yelp” to “excited about Yelp” as a business owner.
Yelp It Up
This idea might not excite you, but probably the most important thing you can do to getting past your psychological barriers is to actually become a “Yelper.” Yes, I mean exactly that you should sign up for an account, get used to knowing how to post reviews, and start Yelping.
Once you become a Yelper, start reviewing a few restaurants, friending others on Yelp, checking-in on Yelp will you now get in the mindset of Yelp reviewers.
One thing becomes very obvious after you have written a few reviews are most people are not trying to be mean spirited when they write bad reviews. We live in a society where customers have less and less outlets to express frustrations in a face-to-face way. Most people are so tired of spending hours trying to register their dissatisfactions through unresponsive calls or emails that they have a certain amount of anger built up before they even start writing.
While there are certainly people out there trying to become “famous” for their mean spirited reviews and criticism, most people are just trying to be heard. Writing reviews yourself and using the site will let you start to better identify with the customers perspective.
Ask Customers For Reviews
What????? Did you think asking for reviews was a no no? Different sites have different policies and all sites often like to leave things vague on purpose. But Yelp allows you to ask your customers for reviews. What you are not allowed to do is to incentivize those reviews.
You can definitely reach out and encourage your customer who is really happy with your service to leave a review. You just cannot bribe them or offer them a discount or something free for leaving reviews.
There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of the good work that you do. Your satisfied customers can become your best social evangelists.
Learn The Fine Print
Yelp has different guidelines for posting reviews, content of those reviews, and contesting reviews. By taking a few minutes to familiarize yourself with those rules, you can start to get a feel for when reviews violate those guidelines.
When you do see a review about your business that is negative, you can use your understanding of the rules to figure out if you have grounds for contesting or asking Yelp to remove the offending review.
You should certainly use your judgement. But if you know the guidelines, you will get better at understanding when and how to ask for reviews to be removed. If you make a good case for removal, you will receive an email from Yelp that alerts you that your appeal was successful.
Never “Curb” Yelp’s Enthusiasm
You can use Yelp’s enthusiasm to fix any problems that you are experiencing. Yelp has a sales team that is very aggressive, so use that to your advantage. Once you claim your Yelp profile, Yelp sales team will keep calling you for advertisement. You don’t have to agree to any of their upsells but when they ask what they can do to help, tell them what problems you are experiencing.
Several people have reported that this method can short circuit some of the normal customer service annoyances (like sitting on the phone with customer service for hours). Might as well give it a try if you are experiencing problems with billing or your account.
Social Is A Verb
Yelp cares about review “authority.” What this means is that you might sometimes see a really positive review quickly disappear because the person who posted the review is not an active reviewer to have “authority” in Yelp’s eyes.
But, by being social, you might be able to give reviews and reviewers a “helping hand.” If you notice a review you appreciate, you can go look at that reviewer’s other reviews and up vote those reviews as being “helpful.”
In other words, you can help them help you. There are certainly no guarantees, but you can certainly participate in providing social proof for the people who support your business.
I hope these tips are helpful in helping you master the Yelp platform.
One last general tip:
You should try to remember that getting angry will rarely help you, in fact, the majority of reviews are genuine even when they are unfavorable.
It will help you a great deal if you remember to look at the unfavorable reviews as a free market research so that you can use them to make your offerings even better.