Owning a Business in a Digital Age: Surviving and Thriving with Online Reviews

If you are a tech savvy consumer, you may have heard of Yelp. Yelp is a website network where people can go to give reviews on local business. Restaurants are the most commonly reviewed businesses, but people can review service providers like plumbers, electricians, hair salons and insurance agencies.

For many small business owners, Yelp can be a great form of advertisement. I know many people who swear by Yelp when it comes to finding new places to eat or visit in their own town or when they are planning a trip to a new place. As a business owner, however, it can be a bit tricky to navigate the Yelp guidelines when it comes to reviews and review placement.

Yelp has an algorithm system for distinguishing real ads from the fake ones. They takes the ads they deem real and brings them to the top of your profile, ads they deem fake or disingenuous they move to a section marked not recommended. Good reviews are great for free advertisement, but negative ones can leave a bad impression on potential customers. Although there is no way to change or delete reviews, your response to a negative review can make a world of difference.

Be professional. Even if the reviewer is raging and hurling accusations, remember they are still a paying customer and your ideal option is to find a way to save their loyalty.

Respond quickly, but keep your response short, sweet and to the point.

Thank the reviewers for their feedback. If possible, address legitimate issues that the reviewer brought up and ways that you are going to change things in the future. If possible, use the negative review as an opportunity to make a second, first impression. If the reviewer had a bad meal, invite them back for a meal on the house. If a product was unsatisfactory, offer to replace it.

-If you think the ad is phony, flag it. In our experience, there is virtually no way to get someone from Yelp on the phone unless you are trying to advertise, so flagging a comment is the best way to bring something to their attention. On the Yelp website, there are lists of things that can be flagged, such as phony reviews, offense language and others. If you feel like the review falls into one of those categories flag it for review and Yelp will get back to you by email regarding it.

Bright/Jensen Sheehan loves getting feedback from our insureds. As with most small businesses, we hope our customer service experience is first class, but if you have an experience with us that is less than satisfactory, we would love to hear from you so we can rectify the situation.

Skip to content