Handling Bad YELP Reviews

Did you ever see the Adam Sandler movie Happy Gilmore? It was the story of a very unsuccessful hockey player who makes it on the pro golf tour. He does so well playing golf that a competitor feels compelled to hire a heckler to rattle Happy Gilmore, which works very well. After all, it’s difficult to do your job well, when someone is telling you how bad you suck from the sidelines.

There is nothing like looking up your business online and being hit with a negative review. It just ruins your day…even your week. You have spent years trying to build a practice and somehow one patient/customer is so pissed off, they have taken to “the internets” to complain. They may be right, they may be wrong, but we live in a free country where the 1st Amendment to our Constitution insures the right to free speech.

As more and more people carry smartphones and tablets people are even more compelled to use programs such as Yelp or Google to write reviews, both positive and negative. Why should you care?  78% of consumers say peer recommendations are the most credible form of advertising. Over 90% of consumers will research products or stores online before ever walking through your doors. 70% of adults online consult reviews or ratings before purchasing. What people are saying about you matters…not just to them, not just to you, but to your potential customers and patients.

So, how do you deal with Online Reviews? Here are 4 steps that can help you deal with customer service and Online Reviews.


You need to realize, no matter how good you think you and your staff are, you will make mistakes and the stars will align in such a way that inevitably you will upset someone someday.  Make a plan as to how to deal with complaints. Consumers almost always try and contact a business before writing an online review. Are you providing a forum for them to do so? Does everyone in your business know who to direct a complaint email or phone call to? Or do they try and sweep a complaint under the virtual rug?

Try and respond quickly to complaints, but not too quickly. Cool down first. You won’t accomplish anything by being upset about a complaint. When possible, respond publicly to their feelings (understand their complaint is their feelings). Do NOT argue publicly. FedEx found in their data, that someone who has had an issue that was resolved positively was 3x more likely to repeat as a customer than someone who has never had an issue.

Invite them to contact you or someone else with authority to solve their issue. Do not have anyone in your organization correspond with them if they do not have the authority to solve the problem. There is little worse than taking the time to explain an issue and have someone reply they will take your concerns to higher ups. That only inflames the customers feeling of your practices incompetence. Invite them to teach you how to resolve the problem. It’s easy to complain, it’s often much tougher to resolve the issue. If you ask the customer how they would solve it, they often realize their issue isn’t so easy after all.

All review sites list the newest reviews on top. Encourage your happy customers on an ongoing basis to spend a few minutes reviewing your practice or store. This does more than bury the negative reviews, it affirms each customers allegiance to your practice since they have just publicly told the world they like you.

Lastly, be sure to continually search your practice online. Sign up for Google Alerts about your business name. It’s free and can save you headache and embarrassment down the road.

Daniel Feldman, is a co-founder to the Visionaries Group  an optical consulting firm specializing in helping eye care practices achieve success at visionariesgroup.com or on Facebook..

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