As a business owner, you probably see nothing wrong with politely asking customers to leave reviews if they liked the service they received. However, Yelp is cracking down on this practice, which it calls “review solicitation.”
Most online review sites, including Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and Amazon only make incentivizing customers or employees to leave a review against their policies. These sites also don’t want businesses setting up kiosks in store for customers to leave positive reviews because they feel customers can’t leave an unbiased review for that company as an employee watches to make sure they do it. It may not be what a business owner wants to here, but it makes sense. Google and the other review sites have no way of knowing you’re not intimidating customers into leaving reviews or giving discounts to people who leave them.
Yelp has taken that rule to its illogical extreme. For Yelp, companies can no longer ask customers to review their business. If you are tempted to ask mailing list subscribers to leave a review, remember that Yelp has a Consumer Alerts program so that people can report a business asking for reviews.
The new changes are bad news for businesses. The average customer doesn’t leave reviews for a business. When was the last time did you give someone 5 stars for doing their job or even going slightly above and beyond? Unless you love reviewing things, it’s probably never. This means that the only people who will review your site are those who are extremely impressed and will tell anyone who will listen how much they love your business and those who absolutely hate you and take advantage of the sense of anonymity the internet provides. The result, which already happens to some extent, will be that there will be no middle ground where people simply say, “This place is good, you should check it out too.”
Until Yelp sorts this out in a way that makes sense, your best bet is to abide by Yelps rules. Attempting to circumvent the system will only backfire in the long run.