Let’s talk about Yelp. Again. We have written before on this blog about the flaws in Yelp’s review system and, unfortunately, nothing much has changed. We don’t have it in for Yelp or anything but, as more and more people rely on it for consumer information we believe it’s important that customers of our industry understand just how it works.
There are lots of online review sites and more are popping up every day. Reviews written by other customers are a great way to learn about a product, a service or a company but readers must understand that, on services like Yelp, they are not necessarily getting the whole story.
Yelp got its start as a site for restaurant reviews and it does a great job of presenting them. However, there’s a difference between reviewing a restaurant and reviewing a home improvement contractor. People who love to find new restaurants (or shops or bars) can’t wait to post their opinions on Yelp, especially when they can rave about the great new place that they “discovered.”
There’s not quite the same thrill in posting about the great window contractor or carpet installer or basement waterproofing company you used on your home. Let’s face it, it’s those customers whose expectations are not met who are more likely to post their complaints than satisfied customers are to publish their accolades.
Here’s a challenge: Go to the Chicago Yelp page and search for home improvement companies that have become household names in Chicago and look at their reviews. They’re generally not very complimentary, yet something has kept these companies in business, many for a long time, and they’re established enough that the average consumer knows their names.
Go ahead and look at our company on Yelp – I’m no coward. Ten of the 13 reviews you’ll see highlighted aren’t very good, to be honest. Given what we believe is the impetus for most reviews, I’m not surprised. However, I am surprised that despite our 57 years in business and 300,000+ satisfied customers, and given Yelp’s popularity, we have only this handful of reviews.
But, let’s look a little further. Those 13 reviews are under a huge, bold red headline that says “Recommended Reviews.” Down at the bottom of the page in very small grayed-out type, there’s another headline that says “38 other reviews that are not recommended.” If you click that link, you’ll see those reviews and see that only 3 are negative and 35 are either 4 or 5 star (out of 5) rave ratings.
So, how does this happen? Yelp explains it by saying that they have “automated software” that detects reviews from infrequent users, “negative rants and positive raves” and reviews that are “unhelpful to the Yelp community.” Fair enough, but how does filtering out 35 customers who were happy enough with our service that they took time to write about it create a picture of U.S. Waterproofing that is helpful to anyone?
Understandably, we don’t believe that our ratings on Yelp truly reflect the way we do business and many, many other businesses (and some academics) feel the same way. (Google “Is Yelp fair?”) However, there’s probably not a lot that can be done about it – all we can do is provide the best service we can at fair prices just as we have since 1957 and hope that a few dissatisfied Yelp-ers are outweighed by the hundreds of thousands of homeowners we have served since then.
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