How to Handle a Bad and Baseless Yelp Review


Nowadays, plumbers, restaurants and all sorts of businesses can register a significant increase in revenue if they receive recommendations or positive reviews on user-review sites such as Yelp.

But several neuroscience studies revealed that people tend to receive negative or bad information more quickly, process that specific information more thoroughly, and remember and respond to it more swiftly and consistently than in the case of positive or good information. And this particular aspect has a significant impact on any business.

So, how should business owners deal with negative reviews in this context?

When deciding how to handle a review you need to keep your cool. Avoid at all costs starting a fight even if the reviewer is dead wrong or off base.

Also, when responding to an online review either negative or positive you need to respond diplomatically, because anything you post online becomes a part of your digital reputation. Instead of trading punches with that person you can write him/her a public or private message letting him/her know that you value their opinion.

Constantly reading and responding to user reviews will accomplish two main things: first of all, it will offer you insight into how the product or service resonates with your customers, as well as ideas on how you can do better. Second of all, it is a way of showing customers and users that you care about their opinions and that you are engaged.

Tired of having to find ways of smoothly handling a bad Yelp review? Every restaurant on Yelp has had one. Here’s how a Kansas City restaurant owner decided to deal with it. He found a witty and clever way of putting the nasty reviewer in her place.

A couple of months ago a Yelp reviewer went on a rant lashing out at Voltaire, a Kansas City, Missouri, establishment that refused to plate her order. Still, she got her comeuppance. Sonal B., with her one-star review wrote that “The manager, Jamie, said, ‘Our food is plated beautifully, and we can’t put it in a to-go container.’ So thanks, Jamie, we’ll just starve.”

William G,, Voltaire’s owner, decided to write back some words of his own a day later. “Being a Yelp user, I’m sure you were aware that on our Yelp business page, on the right side of the screen, it lists details about our establishment. There is an item listed ‘Take-out: No.'” Following this, he went on to explain the pragmatic reasoning of his restaurant for this fact – “we believe the food we prepare should be presented as we see fit, (usually) on a plate inside the dining room” – then dismissed the user’s comments for what they actually were: “threats“.

The posts went viral in no time, being posted on Reddit with commenters writing hateful comments about Yelp and Sonal B. Jon Taffer, host of Spike TV’s Bar Rescue, stated that this type of situations occur from time to time, yet very few business owners know how to handle them correctly given the fact that “social media is not just posting – it can destroy your business” and “the playground of social evaluations is not a fair one.”

By any means this does not mean that entrepreneurs and business owners alike cannot fight back. Just like William, Taffer suggests responding directly to reviewers and prevent one or two bad reviews from straying away from your strategy. “If there’s a bad incident or two, your sheer volume of comments will protect it“, he adds.

So how can entrepreneurs encourage customers to start posting? In Taffer’s opinion “You have to teach your servers to connect with their guests” and ask for their support. And “if you are doing a good job,” a large number of good reviews will come your way. Thus, it’s all about being preemptive and “making the balance your way.”

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