Yelp, the popular online review website that has a strong following in major US cities and launched in the UK earlier this year, has seen its fair share of controversy.

One of the biggest complaints amongst business owners: that reviews can "become a shakedown by emboldened customers or Internet trolls".

Up until now, it has been difficult for business owners to respond to complaints aired publicly in bad reviews. But that changed this week as Yelp launched public commenting for all businesses.

The new functionality, which is free, gives business owners who claim their page on Yelp the ability to leave comments in response to reviews that Yelp users leave. Now, if a reviewer writes something that the business owner disputes or would like to address, it is possible to do so without, perhaps, having to file a lawsuit.

This is good news and public commenting for business owners was long overdue. Review sites should be a two-way street; users deserve to know when a business owner disputes a claim that was made or has made amends for a mistake. In many cases, reading what a business owner has to say can be just as valuable to making a decision as reading a customer review.

Yelp has provided a Business Owner's Guide which contains best practices that are useful reminders to all businesses addressing customer feedback and complaints online.

Photo credit: jwalsh via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 24 April, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (1)



For a small business, giving money to Jeremy Stoppelman and Yelp is like handing a butcher knife to a serial killer.
Yelp needs to verify their reviews. Which is to say that the site needs to actually become trustworthy by being responsible, instead of simply calling themselves trustworthy and expecting people to believe them. They need to be diligent and REMOVE false reviews, either positive or negative, when those reviews are brought to their attention. They need to reinstate credible reviews by actual people, even if those people aren't doing what Yelp wants by spending all their free time on the site, filling it with free content. Short of this, there is no reason for Yelp to exist.

about 9 years ago

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