It seems Yelp needed something to help repair its reputation, despite being one of those sites that survives because people and businesses rely on it too much. Far too many technological things are that way, and those love-hate relationships can make it frustrating when dealing with certain situations. Many businesses have been frustrated with Yelp because of negative reviews that sometimes get suspiciously placed to the top and ultimately hurt business reputations. While the site has had other accusations on favoritism, the public still loves them as an outlet to vent about businesses and weed out the bad apples.
This strange tug-of-war between the public and businesses may get even wider now that people are using Yelp to report food illnesses at various restaurants. With the public’s help, the CDC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is now using Yelp to help track down food viruses spreading throughout a specific city. It’s also being helped in part by a program designed by Columbia University that helps track down these viruses by using keywords found in Yelp reviews.
While this might not be getting huge attention in the immediate term, you can imagine what might happen to Yelp’s reputation when a major food virus breaks out. With headlines that Yelp helped save thousands of people from getting deathly ill, what would that enhanced reputation do to help their reputation with businesses?
Is There a Truce Ahead with Businesses Soured on Yelp?
When restaurants initially see that customers are reporting food viruses in their immediate neighborhood, the derision for the non-fans of Yelp might get even deeper. That’s because a business may fear people will become so scared from reading those reviews, they’ll stay away from the reviewed business or any others in the immediate vicinity. In reality, the CDC will be able to take care of a problem before it gets worse and a potential PR disaster.
It’s a two-way street that businesses constantly have to put up with at Yelp where one annoying thing seems to help something else that’s necessary. In this case, it could be the difference between life and death in customers. It’s then when businesses may start realizing that Yelp can be used for more than just reviews and trying to maintain a reputation. They may help other government agencies track down things that could help repair problems before they get to a crisis point of causing death or at least severe injury.
You also hope that businesses could someday join forces with Yelp in making more of a fair and square truce to eliminate accusations of favoring certain businesses over others. What if Yelp became a flat-rate service that businesses could pay into to assure their positive reviews always rose to the top?
The Issue of Money and Negative Reviews
The sticking point with businesses and Yelp all stem from the idea that the site is extorting some businesses by bumping negative reviews to the top if the business doesn’t buy into Yelp advertising. It’s been a messy road ever since with recent court battles fighting against Yelp, even as the site constantly defends their algorithms as accurate.
Would a simple affordable pay service help bring a real truce? If it’s truly all about money, then a flat rate all businesses can afford would also bring a chance for businesses and Yelp to work together in harmony to create better experiences for customers. With the customer being the center of importance in making them happy and assuring their safety, there shouldn’t be a tug-of-war going on over Yelp’s helpfulness.
Having the CDC using Yelp should give the site some pause on thinking about taking that truce with businesses to a new place. Otherwise, businesses could start taking their displeasure of Yelp out on the customers. And that’s the last thing a business wants to do while the world of business experiences a new renaissance thanks to new online tools.