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Yelp in Your Words: Responding to Negative Reviews

Are you one of many business owners who lose sleep over a negative review? Worse, are you unaware of negative feedback about your business? Whether we like it or not, online reviews are here to stay and customers have more power than ever to affect our businesses. Rather than feeling upset, helpless, or even angry, you can take control of the situation by handling your negative reviews in a professional manner. Here are some guidelines to help you control potential damage to your reputation from negative reviews.

1) Check Your Reviews Regularly
It’s important to respond to negative reviews in a timely fashion.  If you respond quickly, the person who wrote the review is more likely to respond positively because you showed that you care.  Also, other Yelpers who are reading the negative review will have the opportunity to read your comments and see how you responded.

2) Thank the Reviewer
We should always thank Yelpers for taking the time to share their experiences.  Often, they are providing valuable feedback and suggestions. Treat your negative reviews like a suggestion box. In some cases, they can help you improve upon your customer service or business.

3) Acknowledge the Problem
If the gripe is legitimate, apologize for the situation and invite the reviewer to come back after you have rectified the problem. You may offer them a refund or an incentive on a future visit [if the situation warrants this type of action.]

4) Golden Rule – Customer is Always Right
If  you disagree with the complaint, do not show it.  Just thank them for their feedback and do not try to offer them an explanation unless their review contained a factual mistake.  Follow the golden rule of NEVER arguing with the customer.

5) Ignore the Haters
If you receive a verbally abusive review, do NOT respond. Flag the review and move on.  Unfortunately, there are negative people in this world.  You can’t win them all.

6) Always Stay Professional
What is more important than the negative review is what your potential customers think about your response.  No matter what is in the negative review, Yelpers will view you and your business by your reaction.  Stay calm, take the high road, and always stay professional.

-Julie Lim, owner of OC Wine Mart & Tasting Bar