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How to Fix Your Business' Yelp Problem

Plenty of business review tools and apps have come and gone over the past 20 years, but none has caught on quite like Yelp. Managed properly, your business’ Yelp profile can be a tremendous source of leads and referrals for your medical practice or health-related business. Without a proper strategy in place to deal with Yelp, however, bad reviews can quickly become a huge, costly headache that sinks your new-patient numbers. With more and more consumers relying upon digital peer recommendations to make their purchasing choices every day, dropping below three stars on Yelp can steer a lot of business away from your office.

Even if your Yelp reviews are a mess, however, you are not powerless to change that fact. No business is beyond saving with proper planning and execution, even if your Yelp problem weighs heavily on your patient or client intake. As Houston’s top health and wellness marketing agency, Creative8 works with clients to improve their Yelp rankings, respond to bad reviews in a helpful fashion, optimize their Yelp pages to encourage engagement, and generate good reviews from satisfied customers.

The first thing to remember about bad Yelp reviews is that every business gets a few. It’s frustrating, but it’s a fact. If you’ve got more bad reviews than good, however, it’s often a serious red flag that something is wrong with your business. Always read every bad Yelp review to determine patterns in customers’ complaints. Are they frustrated with your wait times? With their bills? Is there a particular employee who takes the brunt of patients’ ire? Any aspect of your business that draws multiple complaints needs to be addressed immediately.

Oftentimes, clients ask us whether or not they should respond to bad reviews. As long as the bad reviews appear to be genuine and not fake or nonsensical, the answer is usually “yes.” Here’s why: Responding to a bad review in a polite, helpful, and professional tone can make your business appear caring, responsive, and adult while subtly discrediting a bad review as childish, emotional, and unfair. If the negative Yelp review makes claims you can argue against, do so objectively, using facts or other customers’ experiences as a talking point.

Here’s an example: “Hello Nathan, we’re very disappointed that you weren’t satisfied with your bill for our services. Most patients tell us that our charges are very competitive. If you call our billing department at 281-555-9136, we’d be happy to go over your bill with you and answer any questions you may have.”

It’s important to respond to a bad review right away. Cool down, check your emotions, and try to understand where the reviewer is coming from. Responding in a professional and collected manner to a mean or hasty rant makes you seem much more reasonable than the emotionally-fueled reviewer and casts the unfavorable light on them, rather than you.

Can you remove negative Yelp reviews? It’s possible, but only when the review violates Yelp’s terms of service or content guidelines. Yelp will lose credibility with its users if it allows businesses to eliminate bad reviews, but if a bad review actually damages Yelp’s credibility, the platform will act. Here are some of the things that trigger removal on Yelp:

  • Writing a fake or defamatory review

  • Promoting another business or other commercial venture

  • Rants about a business's employment practices, political ideologies, extraordinary circumstances, or other matters that don't address the core of the consumer experience

Plagiarism and offensive content can get a review removed, as well. To flag a patient review for removal on Yelp, locate the flag icon next to the post and click it. You will need to detail how the review violates Yelp’s TOS or content guidelines, so be prepared to make your case.

Once you’ve responded to the negative reviews you’ve received, the best way to turn your Yelp rating around is by generating positive reviews. You can encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews with in-office signage or face-to-face communication, and you can include requests for reviews in marketing materials such as direct mail or email, as well. The most effective way to generate positive reviews quickly, however, is to implement a complete, digital reputation management plan.

Creative8 assists marketing clients in Houston, Texas, and beyond with crafting and implementing customized reputation management strategies that really work. If you’re concerned that your Yelp rating is dragging your business down, don’t wait for it to get worse. Call us today for a free consultation on the steps you can take to solve your Yelp problem once and for all.

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