As review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List and TripAdvisor continue to grow both in consumer use and search engine value, we at GFM receive more frequent questions from clients regarding how to manage a brand’s reputation on these sites. While in the eyes of a business owner review sites can look like the “Wild West,” understanding the etiquette associated with each platform and spending time to monitor and engage in a meaningful manner can go a long way.
We asked our friends Tiffany Nieslanik, Yelp Regional Director – West, and Frances Grinsfelder, Denver Yelp Community Manager, to provide some of their best tips to help navigate reviews:
Q: What are the top three tips/steps you recommend to a business owner who comes across a negative review of their product/location/service?
- First, take a deep breath. Negative reviews can feel like a punch in the gut because we care so much about our businesses, but keep in mind that this is a paying customer offering feedback. Take time to cool down before responding to a review.
- Second, keep it simple by just thanking the customer for their business and the feedback. Be careful with your wording here; it’s best to respond diplomatically and drop any defensive or disingenuous tones.
- Third, if you can, be specific about addressing concerns or changes made since the review. This step can go a long way toward earning the trust of a customer.
Q: What is the potential impact of one negative review? Should business owners worry about one – or is there a “tipping point” at which you recommend they should become concerned and begin to take action?
A: You should always take any individual perspective with a grain of salt. After all, no one can please all of the people all of the time. What most users are looking for is a pattern (e.g., the bread is always stale, the employees are frequently rude, etc.) and that’s probably a good thing for owners to look for as well so you can address any recurring concerns for the business.
Q: Are all reviews created equal – or can two reviews with the same star rating be interpreted differently depending upon the profile of the reviewer?
A: Because Yelp is also a community-driven site, we have many users that have a full and vibrant profile that offers a snapshot of their interests. We also have users that have a rich history of reviews that offer a glimpse into their likes and dislikes. For those reasons, the profile of the reviewer can play a part in the trust levels of some readers. However, two reviews with the same star rating can be interpreted differently based on the profile of the reader as well because the content of the review can have more of an impact than the individual star ratings for a reader. For example, if I really hate truffles but someone has given a 5-star rave review because of the use of truffles in every dish I probably wouldn’t want to try that restaurant.
Q: What are the top three tips/steps you recommend a business owner whose business is poorly rated take to try to improve their company’s rating?
- First, get into the conversation. A simple thanks for the feedback goes a long way toward establishing a relationship with a customer, whether their feedback is good, bad, or neutral.
- Secondly, the reviewers are paying customers offering feedback. If there is a negative trend of something that you can address, consider how you can address the issue to improve the overall experience. And, don’t forget to use public and private messaging to let them know something has changed.
- Finally, take advantage of all the tools Yelp offers business owners. From free tools such as creating check-in offers and viewing your business trends to paid search advertising, onsite or on mobile, there are a plethora of options to drive more locals to your business each day.