Woman reading online reviews

You may or may not pay attention to online reviews of your business but odds are that your customers and, more importantly, your potential customers, are certainly reading them.

For that reason alone, it’s really vital for businesses these days to seek out positive reviews and also look for ideas to improve your Yelp review score.

A survey done by Bright Local back in 2014 found that almost 9 out of 10 consumers read online reviews in the previous 12 months to make a decision on a local business. Almost 4 out of 10 did so on a regular basis.

What types of local businesses did consumers want to read reviews for? The top category was restaurants and cafes followed by hotels, doctors/dentists, hair/beauty salons and clothing stores.

Of all the review sites, Yelp can play an outsized role in terms of maintaining the reputation of your business. But it can be difficult to achieve a 5-star rating on Yelp because of the way the site filters out reviews it thinks may be fake or spammy.

Here are some ideas for how to improve your Yelp review score that other businesses have used with some success:

Lift a Positive Review Out of Yelp’s Filter
Certain reviews end up in what’s known as Yelp’s filter. What’s important to know is that the reviews stuck in the filter do not have an impact on your Yelp score.

Obviously, this is a good thing if it’s a bad review. But, if it’s a good review, then you’ll want to try to lift that review out of the filter so that it can help your score.

What to do? The filter captures reviews that Yelp’s algorithm believes may not be legitimate. Maybe the person who wrote the review is not very active on Yelp. Or, maybe they have not written any other reviews of any other businesses.

You can do a few things to improve the reviewer’s standing. First, you can follow them on Yelp. Second, if the reviewer does not have a profile picture, you can reach out and encourage them to upload a photo. Tell them that you appreciate the review, of course, but you are trying to make sure it gets seen by others and, at the moment, it’s stuck in Yelp’s filter.

Besides adding a profile picture, the reviewer can improve their standing by checking in to a few more places on their mobile phone and by increasing their activity on Yelp.

Ask For Reviews From New, Happy Customers
The best to time to ask for a review is when you pick up a new customer that is satisfied with your service. They’re often excited to learn about your business and the new experience they just completed.

If you collect emails from customers as part of your restaurant point-of-sale, figure out a way to flag the newly happy customer as a good prospect for an online review. You may be able to include something in the notes section if your point-of-sale allows for that and then run a report searching for all customers with the positive review flag.

Send those new, happy customers an email about your business, thanking them for becoming a customer and asking them if they wouldn’t mind leaving a nice review on Yelp.

Keep in mind that a few positive reviews in the beginning will likely have staying power for the life of your Yelp presence and help off-set the occasional bad review.

Respond to Reviews
If you receive reviews – good or bad – it’s always a good idea to respond to them one way or another. Yelp rewards business owners who are actively responding with a higher place in the site’s algorithm.

For positive reviews, thank the customer and check to make sure the review did not end up in the filter.

For negative reviews, it’s a good idea to acknowledge them and offer to remedy the situation if the customer had a legitimate complaint. Sometimes, the wait staff makes mistakes or other problems arise. It happens. Whatever you do when you respond to a negative review, just don’t argue back or appear defensive. This can make things worse and turn away potential customers who read the review.

Can your restaurant point of sale technology help you capture emails? Contact us today to find out how to leverage restaurant technology for better profits.

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