Let’s start with the basics. What is Yelp? According to its website, Yelp is an American multinational corporation headquartered in San Francisco. Yelp was founded in 2004 by a couple former PayPal employees. It publishes crowd-sourced reviews about local businesses. As of 2016, Yelp.com has 135 million monthly visitors and 95 million reviews.
What is Yelp good for? Well, it is designed to be a helpful, unbiased source of virtual word of mouth when you are looking for restaurants or any other service-based business. Why do I think you should be paying attention to Yelp? Firstly, it has 135 million monthly visitors. Secondly, the majority of O&P patient care facilities on Yelp have terrible reviews. Thirdly, Yelp prides itself on the fact that businesses have no real control over the reviews meaning you cannot tell Yelp to take down a negative review.
In recent years, Yelp has added features that supposedly make it more business friendly. Businesses can respond to reviewers and reviewers have the ability to update their review if their problem or issue has been resolved. That is all well and good, but how often does that actually happen? I am sure there are statistics on that but anecdotally, I am going to say it does not happen all that often.
The reason I think Yelp is so important is that people use it all the time. As Yelp tries to add to its service offerings, its impact will continue to grow. It is important to focus not on how to combat negative reviews but on how to prevent or minimize their impact.
Take stock, make a plan
Before you start your “Get Yelped” program, make sure you have claimed your business on Yelp. Once you claim it, you will be able to respond to reviewers, or “Yelpers,” who have given you a weak or negative review.
Step one: Check your Yelp reviews.
Step two: Get more reviews. You should let everyone know that your business is on Yelp and that you would like them to provide a review.
For O&P patient care facilities a common problem is the lack of reviews overall so of course the negative reviews are going to stand out. There are no other reviews to balance them out. When I check Yelp for restaurant or hotel reviews, I know there are going to be negative reviews. You cannot please everyone all the time and people do not always have reasonable expectations. If you are a normal, sane person it is pretty easy to distinguish between an objective, constructive review and a spiteful, biased review. A customer who sees 45 generally positive reviews and five angry negative reviews will feel comfortable choosing that particular business. If they see just five angry negative reviews, they will not feel comfortable at all choosing that business and will be especially unhappy if that is the place they “have” to go because their doctor sent them there. They are already primed for disappointment.
Stay up to date
Step three: Monitor your reviews. There should be a specific individual whose job includes monitoring your online presence. They should be logging into Yelp every morning and checking for any activity. It is important for them to acknowledge the good reviews and respond in a genuine and authentic manner. There will never be an overwhelming deluge of reviews for O&P patient care facilities, unlike some of the large hotel chains, so you should not just cut and paste your responses. The best way to show you are engaged and you truly care is to respond like you are engage and you truly care.
Online reviews are not going away. If anything they are going to become more influential in helping people decide where to spend their money. Do not be sabotaged by negative reviews. Get busy monitoring and managing your online reputation.
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- Elizabeth Mansfield is the president of Outsource Marketing Solutions and the Vice President of Clinical Education Concepts. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.