I am disgusted, after a phone call I just had with someone who wanted us to “make his Yelp account disappear.” Some of his comments were, “I don't have time for this technology and social media stuff, and neither does my staff.” “I just want to pay you to take down the negative comment. If you won't do it, I'll find someone else who will.” I was picturing him holding a fat envelope full of money and muffled noises coming from the trunk of his car and I checked to make sure my phone wasn't being tapped. It probably wasn't the best time for me to go into my motivational speaker mode, telling him that “today's digital consumer has a lot to say and now the tools in which to tell the world. We can choose to ignore the progress that technology has brought us or we can embrace it and find ways to improve our businesses and join the party.” Well, aside from that being totally unethical, you just cannot remove a negative review or shut down your account. The customer is in control here.
This man was angry that a customer could write a negative review on Yelp for everyone to see, and even more angry that he felt he had no control when it came to how to deal with “these people.” The reality is, most consumers are two or three years ahead of most businesses and unfortunately those laggard businesses are run by people like this Mr. Hoffa I was speaking with, who refuse to embrace the new and make the necessary changes to continue connecting with this digitally savvy consumer.
Review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Local, Facebook, and a variety of others, have changed the way people do business. These tools are not only being embraced by consumers, but they are becoming the Go-To-First, necessary tool to gather information before making a purchasing decision. Yelp's mobile application was used on approximately 10 million unique mobile devices on a monthly average basis during Q1 2013. And these Yelpers have written over 39 MILLION reviews as of March 2013.
Your sales pitches aren't working any more. It is the voice of these consumers that will bring you business or turn it away. Businesses that embrace these new tools, use them to engage, show they are listening, build loyalty, make improvements and involve the customer in bringing new services and products to the market, and so much more. So whether you are working in a progressive start up, a laggard business, or you are the laggard yourself, we are going to look at a few keys to help you make the most of these tools and embrace the digital consumer and all of their over-sharing ways to build your business!
Here are 5 Keys to Master Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Other social Review Sites:
Claim or Unlock your business.
Anyone can post a review, thus creating a page for your business if one does not exist. When you claim the business (on Google Local, Foursquare, Yelp, and even Facebook), you are given some control. Before a business is claimed or unlocked, you cannot comment back to the reviewer. There are other features, like posting photos of your business that are more appealing than perhaps the one snapped on the go by a customer, or adding important contact information, directions and even a video showing potential customers who you are and what you are all about. So key #1 is definitely to claim or unlock that business!
Beef Up That Profile
Like I mentioned above, you want to load your profile with as much information about your business as possible. Make sure there is a link to your website or even to your Facebook page or blog. Add photos that highlight your business in a positive light. Fill out the sections that ask about you and what makes your business unique or special. Be sure you have your correct phone number and address listed so people on their mobile devices can simply click on them and get directions or dial you up for a reservation. Don't leave any blank spaces.
Be Proactive on The Sites Where Your Customers Are Active
Don't wait until a negative review is posted on one of these sites to get involved. Be proactive, do a few searches on the sites to see if your competitors are on there. Search for your industry (i.e. Attorneys in Timbucktu) and see what comes up. Being proactive, you can post updates and run specials that will entice people to choose your place of business over your competitors. Also don't assume that your business would never be reviewed on a site like Yelp. We asked our social community what businesses they had reviewed and here are some of their answers:
* Doctor's Offices
* Funeral Homes
* Car Dealers
* Radio Stations
* Photo Studios at Target
* Video Studios
* Haunted Houses
* Grocery Stores
* Laundry Mat
* Dry Cleaner
Manage Your Accounts and Respond Promptly
Whether someone posts a rave review or a nasty-gram, let them know you have heard them. Sites like Yelp will caution the business owners to not be defensive or dismissive of a negative review. Offer to help or fix a problem as soon as you are made aware of it. This will show the reviewer that you care and it will also show future customers or viewers that you are here to make things right when they go wrong…and everyone knows there will be issues. It's how you handle them that counts. When someone compliments your team or your business, let them know that you are going to pass along the great feedback (see Rockstar Randy's response in the review below). Train your team (or get training for everyone) on how to respond to negative feedback. These three steps will serve you well: Thank people for bringing the problem to your attention(they could just silently go away and tell everyone), express that this is not how you do business (don't act like this happens all the time with “Yea I know, we have high turnover here…”), and assure the customer that you are going to make it right (bottom line, that is really what people want to hear). To ensure you respond promptly, be sure you have your correct email address in the profile and turn notifications on for new reviews posted. Here's a great response from a rockstar restaurant owner after a positive review was posted:
Instead of being angry like Mr. Hoffa, look at the feedback provided and use it to make improvements or reinforce what you are doing. Share the reviews with your team (like Rockstar Randy did above). Don't let defensiveness get in the way of making improvements. Try to look at every piece of feedback from the customer's perspective and once you make an improvement, you might want to drop a note to the person who left you the comment and share how their feedback brought about change!
If you're like Mr. Hoffa and yous guys don't have time to mess wit da social media stuff, have your people call my people. We can do the work for yas. We won't make it go away, but we will manage ads, encourage your current client to post a review and even handle the dirty work of responding to the not so nice guys and work to turn them into raving fans! Then we'll show up at your place with our bats to straighten out your team! I mean…we'll provide you with feedback on how to improve each month.
Are you a YELPER? We'd love to hear your thoughts on the social review site revolution! Do you have questions for us? We're here to help.