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Help! I Have a Bad Review on Yelp

This week I had the pleasure of discussing social media with CPAs at a CPAConnect meeting in Nashville, TN. At the end of our session, a gentleman approached me with a very interesting question: “What do you do when you get a negative review on Yelp?”

YelpYelp is a website with local search, social networking and discounted deal content. The site includes business listings, directory information, and user generated reviews. Yelp is increasingly popular for people seeking services, including CPAs. Not sure if anyone has reviewed you or your firm? Do a simple search on the site to find out.

Since Yelp is designed as a place for people’s voices to be heard, negative reviews and comments are inevitable. Although every situation is different, there are some simple steps you can take to turn a negative around.

  1. Relax – A bad review can feel like a personal attack, and you may immediately feel defensive and want to fight back. Take a moment to relax, take a deep breath and think about what you are about to type. A level head may save you from an impulsive comment you can’t take back.
  2. Respond – Since your response is in writing, often tone doesn’t translate. If a reviewer perceives you as being disingenuous, condescending or curt, it will only make matters worse. Be professional and offer a solution when appropriate, keeping your response simple and sincere. Of course, be sure not to reveal any sensitive client information, even if the reviewer posted specifics of the situation. If your firm has a communications or marketing professional on staff, check with him or her about any established best practices or policies when it comes to responding to online questions and complaints.
  3. Reroute – If you can, take your conversation offline by getting in touch with the reviewer directly. This helps resolve the problem quicker and avoids a back-and-forth playing out in a public forum. Yelp allows you to send a private message via the website. If the reviewer is a former client, you likely have his or her contact information. A public response on Yelp is usually appropriate when you want to clear up any misinformation or shed light on a topic that might help other readers.

Example: “John, thank you for your business and feedback, and I understand your frustration. I would like to talk to you about a new solution we have for the issue you mentioned. Please contact me so we can discuss the possibilities further.”

Darnell Holloway, Yelp’s manager of local business outreach, says responding to reviews, “…can provide feedback insight into how your product or service resonates with customers, as well as ideas for how you can do better. Second, it can show users that you care and are engaged.”
Resolving negative comments and reviews can help turn someone’s opinion around, and it also shows potential clients that you care enough to try to make things right.

Interested in learning more about social networking? Check out the AICPA’s social media resources.

, Strategist, Social Media and Member Engagement, American Institute of CPAs.


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