Yikes! Help or Yelp for Customer Service Issues?

In working with franchise clients on integrated franchise marketing strategies, including social media, a large part of our effort is directed towards improving Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Google Real-time Search Results play a big role in this and as we know, these results are based upon social media activity and content.

Another aspect of SEO that goes hand-in-hand with search rankings is Local Business Listings Management which basically addresses local search results through a plethora of sites, including many customer review sites such as Yelp! But, what to do about negative customer reviews is always on our minds when they push their way towards the top of the search results. Especially, if the negative review is unwarranted. Or, if the negative review was legitimate, but the issue resolved. Should a negative mark be left out in the open for all the world to see? What are the potential repercussions if the comment is posted and tweeted throughout social media channels and we know this activity will be picked up in Goggle’s Real-Time Search Results. Potentially, this becomes a Circle of Life that we want to avoid. But, at what cost? Yikes!

Well, as the old Fram Oil Filter commercial states, “You can pay me now, or pay me later.” Translation for the franchise community: Dedicate some resources towards improving customer service practices now, or pay to try to remove the negative comments online later, which is not easy to do for a variety of reasons. Some of which may not be the most ethical as the customer review sites feel they have control of your destiny, and want you to pay dearly to relinquish the control back to you. Yikes, for sure!

The following post about one of the more popular review sites, Yelp! and such practices, was written by franchisEssentials Guest Author, Megan Erickson of the Dickinson Law Firm. As you may know, Megan is the author behind the recently launched Social Networking Law Blog. Previously, we posted an article by Megan that proved very popular in franchise circles, Employer Social Networking Policies.

Yelp! Faces Federal Class Action Lawsuit

Bad online review? Interested in buying your way out of it?

Yelp is a popular interactive website allowing its users to create and access reviews of local businesses and services.  The site now faces serious accusations of unfair business practices.

After Yelp! received some bad press for what many believe to be shady advertising practices, a class action lawsuit was filed yesterday in a California federal court. According to a press release posted on the Yelp Class Action Website:

“The lawsuit alleges that Yelp runs an extortion scheme in which the company’s employees call businesses demanding monthly payments, in the guise of ‘advertising contracts,’ in exchange for removing or modifying negative reviews appearing on the website.”

I first learned of the lawsuit via this post by Bradford Schmidt.

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