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Yelp Gets a Bad Review – and a Low Net Promoter Score – from SMB Owners

Popular online review site Yelp may be a hit among consumers who like to write reviews and rate local businesses – the site has collected more than 77 million reviews (as of Q1 2015) – but it doesn’t seem like it’s getting great reviews from small business owners (SMB).

According to the results of a customer feedback survey by local business network Alignable, Yelp’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a paltry -64, which ranks the company 14th out of the 18 SMB brands included in the Alignable survey. The online review site also has a cumulative 1-star rating (out of 5 stars).

What Yelp’s NPS means

NPS, a customer feedback and management tool that’s designed to gauge the loyalty of a company’s customer relationships, identifies customers as belonging to three distinct groups: promoters, passives, and detractors. Yelp’s NPS suggests that, among SMB owners, very few promoters are willing to recommend the use of the site – certainly not as much as those who are considered unhappy customers.

A company’s Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. (For more info on NPS, read our guide.)

“Having customers willing to champion your company to others is the best ‘media’ we can buy,” wrote Alignable CEO Eric Groves in an E-mail to subscribers. “So many of us measure our NPS to know how we’re doing.”

Alignable’s NPS survey takes into account the responses of over 5,000 SMB owners across the US. According to Groves, the scores tallied by SMB brands range from a low of -80 to a high of 49. Alignable says it’s going to continue sharing NPS scorecards of companies in the SMB space each month, along with snippets of reviews from small business owners.

Included in the survey are: MEX, Comcast, Constant Contact, Facebook, GoDaddy, Google, Groupon, Insightly, Mailchimp, OnDeck, PayPal, Quickbooks, Square, Squarespace, Verizon,, and Wix.

Low NPS and negative feedback are not the only problems Yelp has to deal with. The online review site continues to face controversies involving its review policies and the rights of review-writing customers, and that’s not to mention the company’s growth struggles. (Related: Is Yelp up for sale?)

There are still some bright spots, such as this enthusiastic review from a New York SMB owner who was part of the Alignable survey: “Yelp’s free listing program serves as an important channel for small local retail businesses to get discovered by new customers, primarily via local searches made on Google where Yelp consistently ranks in top 10 results. Small businesses need to claim their listings and enhance their free listings with content, photos, videos, etc to the fullest. On the other hand, Yelp’s paid advertising program for these types of businesses, I believe, is hard for to justify.”

Will you recommend Yelp to other local business owners? We look forward to reading your thoughts in the comment section below.

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.


  1. Ann

    For small business owners, I think this is a great way to get interactions from the community. But, also, is very…..questionable. I do NOT have a small business, but I have left reviews on Yelp, and for some of the small businesses, it seems as if the “good” reviews are too positive, if you can understand what I mean. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems as if the owners of the business will leave their own rave reviews on there to get high ranks, and that’s just very sad. And for the reviews that I’ve left, I never got a response to them, so it would seem to me they don’t really stay on top of their reviews, so why even have a place to review? And I have seen a lot of questionable reviews on local sites that seem very doubtful as to their authenticity, unfortunately. As for those businesses, we no longer patronize those businesses.

  2. Jessica

    Yup, Love Yelp. Use it and use it as a business. The people and businesses I see who hate Yelp don’t know how to do reputation management. One of the things I regularly point out is that the negative review can be the best place for a business to shine.

    But How?!?

    Glowing reviews are great, especially if they go into detail. Negative reviews are almost always seen as a bad thing by businesses that aren’t savvy in reputation management but they don’t need to be.

    They come in three types, usually.

    The crazy- This person usually expects a lot of personalized attention and often expects to spend $0 to get it. If they could get you to give them money that would be even better. But don’t expect them to be happy there. There’s really nothing you could do that would make them happy. Mostly these are easy to spot. They have language that isn’t calm, isn’t well spoken and just comes across as less than rational.

    The brief- They say something negative but really they don’t say anything at all. “This place sucks!” It tells other customers absolutely nothing of the experience but gives a business a time to shine with customer service. Just like book reviews on Amazon, a smart consumer will discount these reviews as not really worthy of their time. Especially when a smart business has bothered to reply and has done so well.

    And here’s the really great for business negative review:

    The legitimate complaint. What? How can that be good for business? EVERY business screws up sometimes, or maybe the customer sees a screw up and there were circumstances beyond your control (that maybe you could have communicated better or anticipated better or…?) Rational folks will understand that. And by showing how you deal with these situations publicly you can tell future customers what they can expect from the shop. The good reviews give them a good look at the shop, and a bad review or two like this let them know that the shop will do everything possible to make something right (assuming you do). What more could a reasonable person want?

    Of course all of this assumes you’re doing good business, not screwing up all the time and that your negative reviews aren’t the bulk of your business. If they are it’s time to look in the mirror and ask a real question of why, but a legitimate negative review can be a time to show off just how well you handle problems, not just how well you handle business when things go as planned.

  3. Owen Crump

    Being a small business owner, and not being a member of Yelp, it is a big problem when a person who either has a grudge, or is an idiot, posts something negative about the business because there is no way to respond to the complaint.

  4. twitteraddict05

    I have posted some negative and some excellent reviews on Yelp, but in both case there were some reviews that are not showing on Yelp. The reviews were not fake, but true reviews described in details, so what is the problem? This is the main reason why I will never rate any business, store or restaurant on Yelp ever again. There are more similar review sites that are way better then Yelp, so Yelp can be shout down as far as I am concerned.

  5. Bowie

    It is an indisputable fact that Yelp has done a great deal in putting small business owners on the business map, expanding their reach to new customers. However it has also help many of them to fail. What Yelp could do to improve its NPS is to find a way to do better screening of legitimate and fake reviews. Because, not all of the negative reviews are the result of bad service – some are bought and some are just the result of very frustrated customers.

  6. GQmeansGeek

    This stands for Small Business Owners. They generate a way less reviews then the big shots, so they are frustrated and jealous . Giving Yelp a bad review is a part of their revenge. They can’t deal with the fact that small businesses will gain a way less reviews than big companies and brand names.

  7. Gabby Dell from SC

    Obviously there are some downfalls to review sites, but on the whole, they offer fantastic transparency to prospective clients as well as free promotion for genuinely high quality businesses. There are so many out there, but the number one factor really is traffic. There’s no point to such sites without a huge viewership, and thats something Yelp DEFINITELY has!

  8. scott1281982

    I thought your readers might like to know about this website where businesses can review customers. It is like a “reverse Angie’s list. Take a look at It is professional and well done.

    I hope it is of help.