Monday, February 24, 2014

Review Extortion - How Yelp Helps Evil Consumers


Restaurants.  Car dealerships.  Bars.  Retail shops.  Museums.  Chances are - if you own a business, you're on Yelp - whether you know it like it or not.

Which also means that chances are good you've suffered "review extortion".  We'll get to the "dining with your lawyer" part of this article in a second.

But first - check out the statistics.  90% of Yelp users say that positive reviews affect their buying choices.  93% who conduct research on review sites including but not limited to Yelp (there are countless sites such as Google, Trip Advisor, etc) say they typically make purchases at the businesses for which they search for reviews.

Now let's look at the flip side.  77% of small businesses that use Yelp say that the site has impacted the way they respond to customer issues and complaints...but 87% of small businesses don't actively use review sites like Yelp.

Now back to "dining with your lawyer".

Countless clients of ours have agonized at the hands of these consumers.  We're here to help - but man, do we feel their headaches.

Here are the customers that I'm talking about:

Enter, person with the nickname: couponholic.

Server: "Can I get you started with something to drink?"

Couponholic: "I got this coupon in the mail that says 'Dine for $29' and says on it that I can come pick two entrees and a bottle of wine from your menu for just $29.  So we'll have the filet, the lobster and the 2009 Silver Oak Cabernet."

Server: "Actually, sir - that coupon says it's is for a select menu.  Here's that menu.  I'm happy to review those options with you."

Couponholic: "What!  This is ridiculous!  You'll give me what I interpreted this to be or I'll slam you on Yelp!"

Server: "Somebody shoot me."

Dining with your lawyer.  When did this become the trend?  When review sites started impacting small businesses.

Listen, don't get me wrong.  Sites like Yelp can be great.  They force businesses to be on top of their game and provide good customer service.  I'll be the first person to admit - I've written some great reviews for business and some really harsh reviews.  When justified.

But then there are people who hold the threat of reviews over the heads of small businesses like ex's with less-than-appropriate pictures from that wild night in NYC.  Wrong?  Of course.  Effective?  You bet.

Or how about the small business in Connecticut that put a special promotion out during a recent snowstorm advertising a deep discount?  They had the right date (that day) and it very clearly specified that it was a snowstorm special.  But because the day of the week was wrong (and the business sent out an IMMEDIATE retraction email)...customers found it in their hearts to call the business and demand that the discount be given the next day.

What happened to basic human understanding?  Compassion?  I'll tell you what happened.  Yelp happened.

Chances are, your business has some of those less than stellar reviews.  Or perhaps has great reviews.  But the big question is...do you even know?  And are you responding to each and every review that's out there?  Are you disputing the incorrect ones...or thanking the positive reviewers?

Our team at The Silent Partner Marketing works with our clients to manage your online reputation.  Every review - positive or negative - is an opportunity to grow.  Just make sure you don't squander it.  Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.