Customer reviews have always played a role in business success, and the rise of digital technology and the Internet has only increased that impact. Today, customer reviews provide social proof for businesses, telling others what someone liked or didn’t like about their experience, what to expect, or giving accolades to employees who went the extra mile. While customer reviews can be found on Facebook, and even via Google itself, Yelp remains a powerhouse of business reviews. As such, it’s vital that you know a few things about the platform and how things work.

Claim Your Business on Yelp

Haven’t listed your business on Yelp? Chances are good that it’s already there, and if you’re not monitoring the conversation, you have no way of knowing what’s being said about your company. The first step here is to claim your business through Yelp. That does a couple of things. First, it puts a green check mark on your profile that tells customers you actively monitor the conversation. Second, it allows you to interact with reviewers, add photos, and improve the listing on the website.

Reply to Yelp Reviews

All Yelp reviews should receive a reply, whether they’re positive, negative, or somewhere in the middle. Replying to all reviews shows your customers that their thoughts matter – you’re not just a faceless corporation seeking profit. Take time at least weekly (daily is better) to check reviews, respond to new ones, and interact with your customers.

Handling Negative Yelp Reviews

Handling negative Yelp reviews can be tricky. You don’t want to come across as dismissive. You need to be compassionate, and show the reviewer that you’re interested in addressing the issue. Start by replying to the customer and apologizing that they had such an experience. Then, offer to communicate with them in another capacity, such as email, by phone, or in person. Find out what went wrong, and what can be done to change the situation. If handled correctly, the customer may change their review and rating. You may also keep a customer, rather than losing one, which is always the better option.

Additional Yelp Tools

Yelp offers a number of other tools that can help you build a better business. It’s not just about reviews and star ratings. You can use tools like Check-In Offers, Deals, and “request a quote” to add value and drive new business, turning fence-sitters into actual customers and building a loyal base.

Fake Yelp Reviews

As the owner of the business (and the claimant through Yelp’s interface), you can flag content that you feel falls outside Yelp’s guidelines and possibly have it removed. Do this for any review you feel may be fake, as well as any reviews that are obviously abusive, contain vulgarity, malicious outbound links, and more. No matter what, don’t buy Yelp reviews or anything like it. There’s never a good reason to jump to this method.

Locally Focused

Yelp is really all about local businesses, and the tools provided can help people reach your brick and mortar store. Make sure you verify your business address with Yelp so that you show up on the map. Include your website address and phone number as well, so that people reading the review can connect with your company outside of the Yelp platform. This can help to bring in more online reviews from local area customers, too.

In the end, Yelp reviews can be powerful tools helping you build a positive reputation, but it’s vital for you to monitor the conversation, reply to all reviews left, and take action when a negative or fake review is left.