In this age of social media, sharing is everything. We share our thoughts, our photos, and our experiences. Yelp has become an amazing, interactive tool for both consumers and businesses, allowing for an open dialogue between the two, which can be terrifying for businesses… but only if they don’t know how to respond to reviews. Here are some tips for how to best utilize Yelp to draw customers in as well as how to turn a negative review into an opportunity for some positive PR.
Take advantage of Yelp’s Check-in Offer feature! Even if it’s a little thing such as a free soda with meal purchase or ½ off one item on a return visit, it’s still a “reward” and can influence a consumer to choose your business over another. A restaurant my friends and I frequent honestly isn’t spectacular – the food is just good, not great and the service is ok, but there is an offer for 10% off the entire bill if you check-in on Yelp and that little reward keeps our group coming back.
It is important to respond to customer reviews, the good and the bad. Your response is a chance to change the customer’s attitude in a positive way. Business owners can turn a negative review into a second chance, and possibly even a positive review.
- Apologize for their experience
- Acknowledge the problem – be specific to this customer’s complaint, and if you’ve taken action to resolve this issue, mention that.
- Offer to make things right – If the reviewer had a long wait or a bad encounter with a representative of the business (server, cashier, etc.) ask the reviewer if they would be willing to give you a second chance and offer a discount on their next visit.
- Most importantly, don’t get defensive – stay calm. Remember you are responding to a vocal person (they posted a public review, after all) and they may take their negative reviews to other sites if they feel your response is condescending or insincere.
- Keep it simple – Thank the reviewer for their patronage and let them know you appreciate them sharing their positive experience with others.
- Do not offer a discount, ask the reviewer to join a mailing list, or invite friends and family to visit your establishment – if they liked your business enough to give you a positive review, they will already be encouraging friends and family to try it. Others may see discounts or rewards offered to positive reviewers as a bribe.
Taking advantage of Yelp can really help drive patronage and build a strong and loyal customer base. Just remember, the individuals reviewing your business on Yelp are already paying customers, which makes them some of your most effective word-of-mouth advocates. Reviewers are writing about an individual experience and everyone has different expectations and sensitivities; the potential customers checking Yelp before visiting your establishment know this too, and it’s easy to see when a reviewer had a bad attitude as opposed to a bad experience. The bottom line is: be proactive, be engaging, and be understanding and you can turn Yelp into an invaluable tool for your business.