Yelp Responds to Scarehouse and Fails Again.
When I first started blogging about Scarehouse Scott’s issues with Yelp, I felt very empathetic toward his situation. As it continues, I have been grabbed by the same sense of frustration he has. Today, he did manage to get a response from someone at Yelp. But, as you will see, it is a generic formulated response that actually does not address any of his specific issues. He isn’t fooled. I am not fooled. And no one is going to fool any of you readers. This is absolutely ridiculous.
Scott sent an e-mail that was pretty much what you read in the first Yelp post. Here is the response he received. My comments will be in red.
Hi Scott –
First and foremost, thank you for your note and the opportunity to connect with you!
I’m pretty sure Scott wasn’t just sending a “note” like, hey how ya doin’? And- opportunity to connect? She should be offering to address his concerns right up front.
I did want to touch upon your thoughts on seasonal businesses. That’s actually something that has come up here at Yelp before (ice cream trucks, lobster stands, etc) and how we can better help those businesses needs. Your points are duly noted and I’ll share with our product team.
If this has come up before, then they had a responsibility to address those points, not offer to share them with the product team. (Product team?- seems the wrong place to send this particular complaint)
I wanted to make sure you realize why we have a review filter in place and while we can’t disclose exactly how it works, some of the things it does and does not take into consideration. As outlined in this post <http://officialblog.yelp.com/2010/03/yelp-review-filter-explained.html> , our filter is automated. It looks at objective data rather than subjective measures (like how well written a review might be; star rating, etc) to try and show users the most useful information possible. Reviews that reflect perfectly legitimate experiences are sometimes filtered out by the review filter’s algorithmic processes — and we’re the first to agree that this can be frustrating, but it’s the high cost we accept to avoid being a lassez-faire review site that people stop using <http://www.google.com/trends?q=citysearch,+yelp,+yellowpages&geo=usa&sa=N> . Everyone loses when that happens.
So, if someone comes to your business and loves what you do but are not articulate, they shouldn’t bother going to Yelp to do a review. It would be a waste of time since it is just going to get filtered out anyway. Who wins there?
And, in case Yelp is going to act like they never saw this blog (I included their @ with the post links), we already watched the video that explains the filtering process/algorithm and realize a whole lot about it that is wrong. I linked that in the first post trying to be fair to Yelp. (I’m over that now) Yelp, please don’t treat the Scarehouse owner or the 178 people who have read these posts in the last 22.5 hours like they are morons.
Finally, in terms of engaging with yelpers: I think you’ve already done a great job unlocking your Yelp page, providing information about yourself and taking advantage of the tools. In case you haven’t seen it already, we have a blog post here <http://officialblog.yelp.com/2011/03/tactics-for-responding-to-online-critics-new-york-times-boss-blog.html> that outlines best practices to responding to reviews, but in past experience, I would encourage you to address the facts that might be inaccurate as it’s not just previous customers that are coming to your site, but future ones, as well. Yelpers look at your response just as much — if not more so — than the reviews.
Agreed, Scott did an excellent job of trying to work within the framework of Yelp and use their tools. Unfortunately, the tools he wants Yelp to provide- like positive reviews that aren’t filtered based on some secret, or negative review loving, formula (and yes, if you actually are being honest at Yelp, it’s like SEO– if you told us exactly how it worked people would abuse the system, we get it)- aren’t working well on their end. What good is a Yelp blog about responding to reviews going to do for business when they keep filtering out the reviews.
If I can answer any other Qs, I’m happy to try and help.
Seriously, let’s try answering Scott’s questions directly in the first place before we offer to answer any new ones. All this kind of response does is frustrate a person/business owner even more. I think finding a solution instead of copying links to information that offers no help for the situation would be a much better answer. Everyone invested in this issue gets the why and what of what you are doing. Most of us are really starting to think it is pretty shady.
What everyone wants to know now is HOW are you going to fix this problem and WHEN.
Scott is not the only person to have complained about the positive review filtering issue and my readers want to know what you plan to do. Cut the politics and spell out an exact answer.
Emails like this are exactly the reason I started this blog.