NEW ORLEANS — How do you ensure your business’ online reputation is strong? And how will you respond to your first negative review?
Perhaps the best known of the online review sites is Yelp, which had a monthly average of approximately 102 million unique visitors in first-quarter 2013.
Darnell Holloway, manager of local business outreach for Yelp, opened his Clean Show presentation by sharing a video of how one shouldn’t respond to a Yelp review. The Portlandia clip features a feminist bookstore owner incensed by an unfavorable review. The owner visits a local watering hole to track down the reviewer, who turns out to be tennis legend Martina Navratilova.
Soon, the bookstore owner is pressuring Navratilova to change her review and even to write a fake one as her tennis nemesis Chris Evert.
Long story short, stalking your reviewers is never a good idea. In fact, it’s Holloway’s position that the business reviewed should publicly thank the person for his or her review, state any policies relative to any issues cited, and respond to any criticism promptly.
It’s important that businesses engage reviewers diplomatically, not defensively, and that they don’t obsess over any single review, Holloway says. Let people know your business is on Yelp, he adds, but don’t ask for reviews.
While it may seem that all Yelp reviews are negative, nearly 80% of them are “3 Stars” or higher, he says.
There are times when reviews are removed from the site: users can take down reviews if they choose to; reviews that violate Yelp guidelines are flagged and removed; and an automated filter suppresses some reviews.
While Yelp recommends that businesses take a hands-off approach regarding the posting of reviews, companies can create a Business Owners account at biz.yelp.com and take advantage of free tools to reach new customers.
To improve your business’ Yelp rating, Holloway suggests these tactics:
- Provide great service
- Update your business card and e-mail signature to include the Yelp logo so customers know they can review you on the site
- Create a check-in offer or Yelp deal to entice participation
- Market your Yelp presence (“Find us on Yelp”) in in-office marketing and newsletters.