I know most people are skeptical about Yelp, Google My Business, TripAdvisor and other review sites, and none more skeptical than a business owner with a bad review posted on one of these sites. “It’s probably one of my competitors, posting a false review.” Whether it is your evil competitor trying to take you down or your newest fan raving about you, these sites cannot be ignored.
Companies have to be monitoring their brands and make time to engage and reply to these active reviewers. Now before you start whining about the good old days before all of these social sites and consumer review sites, stop! Times and tools have changed. Consumers have a voice and now the tools to tell the world about you–good and bad. Let’s focus on what you can do to maximize this power. With a little attention to these reviewers, you can turn a bad experience around and build loyalty, and on good reviews you can boost the love and create a viral spread.
Here are some tips you need to use today:
1. Claim and Manage Your Business’s Review Sites.
I still hear people saying they don’t want reviews because they fear the negative reviews will hurt their business. First of all, if you think there will be more negative than positive reviews, perhaps it’s time to do some training within your team. Second, people are going to talk about you whether you “allow” them to or not. The question is, will you be part of the conversation? According to Review Trackers, who looked at 9 million online reviews, they found more people are leaving positive reviews than negative and most consumers say they want to see what other people say about a brand before they decide to do business there.
On Google My Business, be sure to claim and get your website verified so you can reply to comments left by your customers. On Facebook, you want to be sure you own and manage your business page so you can do the same. If you search for your business on Yelp (or any of these sites) and you see “IS THIS YOUR BUSINESS?” or “CLAIM THIS BUSINESS” do the work and gt it validated so you control it.
2. Reply to comments and social reviews quickly
When someone takes the time to write any comment about your business, they are giving you a gift. Don’t leave that gift unacknowledged. Make sure you have notifications turned on for comments on your website and that you either check once or twice a day all of your social channels or turn those notifications on as well so you don’t miss comments there.
There is nothing worse than leaving a question or comment and never hearing back. Whether you receive a great compliment or a horrible review, be sure to thank the person for taking the time to provide you with feedback. One thing I learned from raising my 4 children is, what you recognize or reward will be repeated. Thank people for bringing you the feedback.
3. Apologize… SINCERELY!
Again, something I learned from my kids during those teenaged years; an apology that starts with SOR-RY and includes BUT… is not an apology. It is an excuse.
I had the opportunity to sit with a woman in a cable company call center, Mary Delgado, who was the escalation desk for the vilest of customers. She took call after call from people who were cussing at her, screaming into their phones (over cable TV, no less). Mary would listen without interrupting and then her first response would be, “Oh my goodness. I am so sorry you have had to go through this. This should NOT have happened. I am going to get this taken care of.” It was so classic. You could almost see the person on the end of the line squirming as they tried to come up with another comeback. Their anger couldn’t compete with her willingness to own the problem and seek a resolution. Sometimes all a wronged customer wants is to be heard and to hear a sincere apology.
4. Do NOT delete the comment
Show, in public, how you are going to make things right or at least ensure it doesn’t happen again. Most review sites don’t allow you to delete a review, but Facebook does if the comment is left on the page and not in the review area. I have seen companies delete negative reviews, thinking the person will just quietly go away. If you delete an angry comment on your site, the customer will take it to a public space where you have no control and it WILL. GET. UGLY!
I am shocked to see review sites where a company either denies that the problem happened, basically calling the customer a lier (Most classic is the Blue Sky Hostel owner in Glasgow who calls the customer “a blind, fat, retard.” The firestorm of comments back and forth between the owner, the angry customer and everyone else who chimed in for entertainment was better than any reality show available on any television network.
You can find the Buzzfeed post here with screenshots. Which is another reason why you should never delete a negative comment–the person has most likely taken screenshots in case they need to go to the public.
So what can you do about it? If it is something you need to investigate to find out if it is true, you can HIDE a comment on Facebook, but on any site, you should contact the person who posted the review and ask them to contact you via private message to resolve the issue. When they don’t respond, you can assume the person isn’t looking for a resolution. Whether it’s a negative review, an old embarrassing photo of yourself, or anything that shows up on the web that you wish would just go away, the one thing you CAN do is put out lots of good content that is attached to your brand, to push those old reviews down. It will take time, but it works.
5. Ask for reviews and recommendations on your social media sites regularly.
When a delighted customer tells you they had great service or loves your product, immediately ask if they would mind writing a review for you on one of your social sites like Google, Yelp or Facebook. Let them know how it helps your business and then thank them.
Talk to your team and remind them to think digital-first and get those recommendations in video, on social sites or anywhere else that the world can see.
Aim to get these recommendations on a regular basis. It doesn’t help to have 10 reviews all at once in 2014 and nothing since. This tells consumers (and Google) that you got friends and family members to review your business when you opened the door but no one has reviewed it since. Make a point to ask people on an ongoing basis 2-5 a month or 1-2 a week depending on how busy you are.
I’d love to hear from you. Have you left reviews on a social review site? Do you expect a response? How do you feel if you get one?
If you need help keeping up with all of the responses and connecting with your social audience, contact us today.…it’s what we do!
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.
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 * Realtors * Radio Stations * Universities * Photo Studios at Target * Video Studios * Haunted Houses * Grocery Stores * Hotels * Airlines * 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.