Earlier, we gave advice on how to receive organic Yelp reviews.
If you took our advice, and if you are receiving more reviews than you can handle, perfect. You are ready for the next step.
Eventually, you will receive low-rating Yelp reviews. Maybe your waiter dropped hot, saucy spaghetti on a customer’s egg white Polo shirt. Or perhaps your cashier temporarily forgot how to open the cash drawer, backing the line, causing frustration and resentment. Or maybe you closed unexpectedly, due to internal conflicts. Whatever the cause, the poor review will come. And when it does, you must know how to respond.
We often learn better when told what not to do. When you receive a poor review, resist these 10 common responses.
1. You’re defensive.
We defend ourselves when we feel threatened. And a poor review can certainly seem like a threat. You have a brand to maintain, to build, to defend. When a poor review sneaks up, unannounced and unexpected, you instinctively grab the guns and shoot.
When you see that small star or two, stop. Know that a poor review will not disarm your brand. Getting defensive is the wrong approach.
Instead of defending yourself, approach the review with an open mind. Do not respond with pride but with vigilance, focusing not on maintaining your business but improving it.
2. You give excuses.
are almost never meant for the other but for ourselves: we explain for self-reassurance. “My business is not that bad. Here’s why…”
The moment you make an excuse, however, is the minute you invalidate the review. In effect, you say, “I read your review, and I disagree. Here’s why….”
When customers see this, they don’t feel their emotions change. What they want is not an excuse but a plan of action. “We apologize for your bad experience. We promise to do this, this, and this to improve your future experiences.”
3. You don’t respond.
Not responding to a review is probably the worst move you can make. When you don’t respond, you give up, throw in the flag, pretend to not exist. Those who don’t answer reviews forfeit their brands, their message, their stories.
Don’t be afraid to respond.
4. You’re rude.
Just because you’re not face to face doesn’t mean you should lose your manners. Speak online as you would speak in store, unless, of course, you’re rude in store.
Respect is the first stride toward strengthening relationships, and the only stride toward leadership. Be a chivalrous leader and treat your customers’ review with respect.
5. You’re condescending.
Don’t act superior. Ever. Those who look down are those who fail to look around. And when you fail to look around, you fail to see equality.
Treat your customers as equals. Don’t think, “You haven’t owned a restaurant, you don’t know what it’s like.” Treat the review as a valid source with a credible opinion.
6. You’re impatient.
Often, I’ll see a review with a dozen unbroken, fragmentary lines. As I scan the copy, I spot misspelled words, misspelled words, sentence fragments, and almost no punctuation. This person, I conclude, wrote impetuously.
Surprisingly, I see a lot of responders respond this way. Impatience, it seems, trembled their executing hands. Instead of well-thought out sentences, I find fragmentary apologies. Their responses, then, appear impulsive and suspicious.
Take time to respond. Take five minutes to let the message percolate. Think deeply. Then, write.
7. You’re sarcastic.
Sarcasm is mockery. Bitter words with bitter intent do not help your business, nor will they make customers laugh.
“Yeah sure, I’ll add a vegan soup to my ‘too-carnivorous menu.’ Would you like vegan vegetables in that, too? How about Ray Bans and V-neck shirts with every bowl ordered?” – real response by a now closed BBQ.
8. You take the review down.
Taking the review off Yelp is cowardly. Respond with words, deeds, and actions, not subtle machinations.
9. You promise but don’t deliver.
A promise made in words must translate into actions made with hands. In other words, do something.
Don’t hesitate. If a change is not made, more customers will post similar poor reviews. The cumulative force of these reviews may punch unexpected holes in your business. And when that happens, you will either sink or float but never sail.
10. You’re intoxicated.
You should never drink and Yelp. Period.