How NOT to Handle a Yelp Review at Your Eyecare Practice

Posted by Shawn Salter on Tue, Sep 06, 2011 @ 12:09 PM

handling-a-bad-yelp-reviewEvery month or so, we hear one of our coworkers say "Seriously? She is writing me AGAIN!" and we all know what she is talking about: the lady from the company she gave a bad review on Yelp. We heard it again recently, and that is the inspiration for this post on handling a bad Yelp review... or more specifically, how NOT to handle a bad Yelp review.

Our coworker's experience is was so off-the-wall that we just had to share. (Hopefully it will help prevent anyone else from making the same mistakes that this business made.) Okay, here goes:

A few years ago our coworker hired a company, we'll call it "Bad Example", and was unhappy VERY UNHAPPY with the level of service that she received from Bad Example. Unfortunately for Bad Example, our coworker is an avid Yelper, so she yelped the experience and gave them a negative review. Months go by and no response, strengthening our coworkers resolve in that her review was justified.

Lesson #1: Don't ignore a negative review.
Part of the beauty of Yelp is that it allows customers and businesses to have an open dialogue and correct issues that would otherwise result in lost business. The only thing worse than a negative review is an IGNORED negative review.

Then, out of the blue 4 months later, she gets an email from a former employee of Bad Example saying that the original owner (and person at the root our coworker's experience) is leaving Bad Example and the partner that is taking over is asking that our coworker remove the negative review. Our coworker felt that it was bad form to have someone else contact her after months of no response and brazenly ask her to remove it without so much as an attempt to rectify the situation.

Lesson #2: Don't get someone else involved.
It's your business, you handle it. Bringing in a third-party is ridiculous. It makes it look like you aren't capable of dealing with it yourself, or that you are trying to manipulate the person because of their relationship with the third party.

Lesson #3: Don't forget to try to fix the situation.
We get it, the bad review is there and you just want it gone. But reaching out without so much as an attempt to rectify the situation is a bad move. We're not saying you have to offer something free, or give money back, in fact that may not be the best method anyway. Something as simple as saying "we would love the chance to show you how we've improved" and inviting them back to your business is a step in the right direction. If you want the reviewer to reconsider, you simply need to make an effort.

So did our coworker remove it? Nope! (Would you?) Another month later, another email from the former employee, this time containing details about the issues between the former and current owner and a bit more justification for the request. This time the new owner is offering to speak to our coworker. Our coworker decided to give the new owner a shot at repairing the issue, so she allowed the former employee to give the new owner her email. After an extremely lengthy email from the new owner, our coworker now has the specifics of the legal battle going on at Bad Example over ownership, and a sob story that goes along with it.

Lesson #4: Don't forget to keep it professional.
T.M.I. What happens behind the scenes is your business, and it's important to be professional. People don't want to know all of the issues, they just want to know how it will be fixed. Besides, do you want a potentially unhappy customer blabbing about the details of your business? Keep it professional and you'll be fine.

After weighing the situation, our coworker decides to modify her review. (Hey, we're all in marketing and we understand that this stuff is important). Her modifications says that any bad experience she had was with the previous owner, that the new owner reached out to her, and that any review prior to the date that the new owner took over should be taken in stride or disregarded, they've dissolved the partnership and it's a new day at Bad Example, give the new owner a fair shake. Pretty nice, right? Well, apparently it wasn't enough for the business owner, as she began emailing our coworker in regular intervals, asking her to remove the review in its entirety. When that didn't work, she began having the former employee email as well.

Lesson #5: Don't harass someone to get them to remove a bad review.
And definitely don't continue to badger them if they revise their review in any way that makes it less negative! In this case, having the review removed entirely would eliminate something that provides context for other bad reviews that are about the previous owner. That's a blessing! Contacting someone repeatedly is probably going to create a standoff, doing more harm than good. It's bizarre. It's stalker-ish. It seems pathetic and desperate. And above that, it's extremely ANNOYING.

Now, more than a year later, the new owner still emails our coworker. And what's really interesting is that if you go to Yelp, you'll find that the business doesn't have any new, positive reviews. If Yelp reviews are so important to this business, why isn't the owner pushing for more great reviews from her happy clients?

Lesson #6: Don't get so caught up in one bad review that you forget to focus on the business at hand.
With every good review, that bad one carries less weight. So do your best to correct the review, reach out to the person that wrote it and show that you care about your business, and when you've done all you can do, move on. Then, you can encourage other customers/patients to review your business on Yelp, and as they sing your praises, the negative review will be come less and less relevant. (Both to you and the readers).

Here's the thing, our coworker, like all patrons of a business, has the right to her opinion. And these days, she has the right to voice that opinion publicly. To be honest, if she wanted, she would be totally justified in updating the review to say that the new owner is harassing her via email and no one would disagree. Handling a negative Yelp review takes a certain amount of finesse. In fact, Yelp even offers some suggestions to business owners to help them navigate this touchy subject, which you can read here.

Have any of you had any experiences like this at your eyecare practice? Any suggestions for others in dealing with Yelp reviews? Share them in the comments!


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Tags: Marketing and Social Media, Tips & Tools, Customer Service

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