Reviewing local restaurants, bars and other city hot spots across the U.S. has become popular on the San Francisco-based website Yelp, but some reviewers are now posting opinions about government services like their local Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) branch office or a nearby state park.
Typically, consumers post and read reviews on Yelp for choosing where to dine, shop or visit. But should reviews about government services on Yelp be a cause of worry to public sector entities?
Those familiar with the reviewing website can find a spectrum of comments and opinions about a particular place, ranging from glowing to scathing. That same variety of reviews also exists on Yelp pages about government services.
On one Yelp page about a DMV branch office in San Diego, reviewers express a mix of positive and negative opinions based on their experiences. While some used the site as a platform to vent frustrations, others used it to either share a positive experience or to provide tips about what to do before going to the DMV, like making an appointment.
Luther Lowe, Yelp’s director of public policy, recommends that governments monitoring content on Yelp to see how constituents feel about a particular department or service, shouldn't worry too much about criticisms posted to the site.
“Don’t freak out about any individual negative review,” Lowe said. “Eighty percent of the time, when people are writing reviews, they’re three stars or above.”
3 Tips to Help Governments Survive (Negative) Yelp Reviews
Luther Lowe, Yelp’s director of public policy, said there are three key tips for any business or government entity to survive a less-than-stellar Yelp review.
Lowe said stop, take a deep breath, and understand a negative review isn’t necessarily intended as a personal attack. Negative reviews come from individuals with a legitimate opinion, and they are trying to share that or offer feedback to improve your operation.
Drop any kind of pretense or attitude, and be willing to approach the person or issue diplomatically.
“Roll with the punches,” Lowe said. “Everyone gets negative reviews.”