The fact that the Internet, specifically sites like Yelp and Google, allow anyone on the Internet to comment on a business is amazingly awesome scary. One question that I often receive from audience members who own restaurants or car dealerships is, “How do I control what people say about my business?” In short, you cannot. However, that’s not necessarily a negative. Random awesome posts can be a welcome pick-me-up. Plus, one bad review could be a reason to connect with your best customers and encourage them to write about their personal experiences.
No matter what though, don’t do this-
My mouth completely hit the floor when I saw this post yesterday. Imagine the horrible PR that could ensue if the name of the company making this request was leaked to the media. Additionally, Yelp now places and advisory, with proof, on the pages of those businesses caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
In 2010 one of my friends received a negative Yelp review from an extremely irrational client. I advised her to contact her best clients to ask them to post their experiences. The result, not only did her star clients post reviews, they also started sharing her information via social networks. Within 48 hours she had six prospects contact her from positive word of mouth!
A negative review can be a huge boost to a company. If handled well, it can be a great way to energize past clients (brand ambassadors), generate referrals from positive word of mouth and build your online reputation as a mature brand that can manage conflict.