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“88% of consumers are influenced by online reviews. If you have negative ones showing up for branded/direct searches, kiss that customer goodbye.”

When it comes to Yelp reviews for your restaurant, there is no hiding, they can make or break your business. If your business is getting bad reviews, whether they are deserved or not, it is having a significant impact on your bottom line. As a result, managing your reputation online is one of the most important things you can do for your establishment. This post will explain how to deal with bad reviews and make sure your Yelp rating is as high and resilient as possible.

Yelp has a very sophisticated review algorithm; it’s designed to filter fake reviews and reviews that are too positive or negative. So, once a review makes it through Yelp’s filters it is really hard to do anything about it. As a result, when it comes to bad Yelp reviews the best thing you can do BY FAR is not getting them in the first place. But, in the restaurant business, bad reviews are inevitable and this is what you can do to manage them:

1. Respond and Offer Directly respond to bad reviews with concern, authenticity, and a resolution. If a customer has a legitimately bad experience with your restaurant, accept the feedback, apologize, and offer them whatever it takes, (within reason) to resolve the issue. Taking action in this way will not only often resolve the bad review, but it is also a great opportunity to show other potential customers how you do business and manage conflict. Bad yelp ratings can be devastating to your business, and you should be willing to make significant sacrifices to get bad reviews deleted by their owners and keep your restaurant as highly rated as possible.

2. Flag It – If you find that a bad review offensive, illegitimate, or otherwise unmanageable, flag it. Yelp has strict rules about review content, so in extreme cases or where there are no other reasonable options, flagging unfavorable reviews is your only option. And if by chance the bad review violates the Yelp ToS, it will be removed.

3. Customer Outreach – If you’ve executed steps one and two and still find yourself with bad reviews that cannot be resolved, the only thing you can do is diminish them with a high volume of positive, (legitimate) reviews, (Yelp will sue you for purchasing positive reviews.) Customers are very receptive to reviewing their experience, particularly if you’ve done a good job, so be sure to make it a high priority to always be asking your customers to review your restaurant on Yelp. You can do this in a number of ways: a. Have your staff ask customers to review their experience on Yelp b. Ask your network for reviews and personal recommendations c. Strategically place a call to action throughout your customer experience d. Send personalized email to customers stating your gratitude for their business and their feedback on Yelp.

Your Yelp reviews and ranking matter. If your restaurant does not sustain a four-star rating or higher, you are going to see a dramatic loss in business. So if your restaurant is getting bad Yelp reviews, use these techniques to manage them and address your client’s issues directly. Take the opportunity to show your customers that you care about them, that you’re willing to sacrifice for their business and Yelp will become an asset to your restaurant, not a liability.

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