Yelp just announced a new feature that allows business owners to comment publicly on reviews posted by users.
The portal (a social review site) has been under fire for several months for a variety of issues, including the trading of positive reviews, hiding negative reviews and generally not providing a voice in the process to those being reviewed honestly. While this public commenting feature might not resolve all those specific troubles, public commenting does do a great deal to resolve some transparency issues and a bit of the negative publicity.
To get started commenting on Yelp, business owners needs to claim their page on biz.yelp.com. The company has created a public comment guidelines section within its Business Owners Guide, which might prove useful for those experiencing some reputation issues on the site. The company essentially advises business owners how to use and how not to use public comments for the greatest benefit.
Yelp suggests business owners tell the community what they have done to address a specific concern raised by a reviewer, to provide correct information when a review contains something inaccurate or out-of-date, and - when it is not possible to resolve a dispute through private messaging - to provide a version of the situation. The company also has tips on how businesses should not use the public comments feature. While not making personal attacks should be understood in any business environment, Yelp also advises business owners not to offer incentives and not to thank a user for a positive review.