So often I’ve had lengthy discussions with other business owners who express their dissatisfaction with Yelp, Trip Advisor, FourSquare, as well as many other business review sites because they have been detrimental to their establishments. It’s impossible to please everyone when dealing with the public. Most of these ponder why so many of their customers leave such bad reviews. In the past, if a customer left unhappy, the worst they could do is tell their family and friends, but now with social media, anyone can write pretty much anything they want to. Not only do they stay public, they usually stay there forever.
These reviews become the pillar for persuading or dissuading future business. One business owner I interviewed said his sales have decreased 50% since he has been on Yelp. On the other hand, Reviews can be beneficial too because owners have another way to receive feedback and respond. This allows the customer to be validated and shows that the business value their patronage. However, the owner has to be proactive by utilizing social media and reactive to both positive and negative reviews. The passive business owner who does nothing is not stepping up to the plate of the current trends and this could lead to their organization’s demise.
The problem with Social Media is that it’s ever-changing and there’s always a new app or trend emerging. It is very challenging as a business owner to keep up with the daily functions of the business while evolving with the new technological trends.
I have personally spent countless hours talking with Yelp representatives about what to do about negative reviews for my clients. I’ve even offered thousands of dollars to eliminate negative reviews, but they would not accept it. Yelp only offers the ad sales department as a point of contact, because business advertisements are what keep the site going. In working with several of my clients, I found it very important to have a dialogue with the world’s largest social media companies to find solutions for these complicated matters.
My first client was a dental firm with a good amount of negative reviews. In speaking to the firm’s staff and as unlikely as it may seem, some of these reviews were created individuals who were not even patients in the practice. Yelp has created an arena for people to verbally assault and affect businesses, which I doubt was included in the company’s mission statement.
Rumors have spawned from Yelp users about Their policies. I know firsthand that no one can pay to have a review taken down. This sign was found in Oakland:
Much of this information is out-dated, inaccurate and untrue, but it goes to show why we must be kept informed about what is really going on, how it affects us and what our plan is to make it work for the best of the business.
Since no business can be removed and Yelp won’t change their policies, what is a business owner to do? My best advice is not to stick your head in the sand and ignore it. My advice is to embrace this new technology. If you don’t have time nor want to deal with it, source it out and hire a reputable online reputation management company to do it for you. Many businesses outsource booking, payroll, janitorial and other services and the reputation of a business is the central organ of a company that generates income.
Do what you can to learn more about what you can do as a business owner. Use these online platforms to be for your business. Instead of ignoring them, use and interact with them. Technology isn’t going anywhere, so it’s imperative businesses evolve with the trends or be left in the dust.
Aja Niemann, MA is the owner and founder of ReputationResponder.com. She works as an online marketing strategist and speaking consultant. Niemann is a published writer, professional speaking consultant, Monarch butterfly enthusiast, skydiver, sensory deprivation tank floater and philanthropist.
Photo Source: blog.ericgoldman.org