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If you are in business or work for one, you have seen them, the dreaded Yelp review. Originally the bane of the restaurant industry, now most businesses today have a Yelp.com page. To further that, there are the reviews themselves. Reviews are supposedly left by genuine patrons of your business, however, we have all heard the horror stories of competitors who leave bad reviews on another company’s site to drive business away. As well as actual guests who used all of your goods and services, said they had a good time, only to leave a two star review saying they would never be back. After all of your time and effort creating your business, the long hours and late nights, all you want to do is fire back with a great zinger of a public response that lets them know just how wrong they were. However, before you press “post” on that response screen, take a breath and read the rest of this post.

Love it or hate it, Yelp.com and other user based content review sites are here to stay. There are over 145,000,000 average monthly users on Yelp and 70% of them find businesses using a mobile device. Meaning, 101,500,000 are looking up a business while they are on the move (possibly looking for a place to eat). So, it’s another way that you are getting your business noticed. If you are like most businesses you have somewhere between a 3 – 5 star rating for your business. Over 75% of business in the US fall in that 3 – 5 star range.

So, great, you fall in that number, then why worry about responding?

  1. Responding to a review, good, bad, or ugly, is still an important way to communicate with the public. Whether someone wrote a glowing 5 star review or a terrible 1 star review stating that they wished they could give your business negative reviews, respond to the review. You are writing for an entire community (remember that 145,000,000 number above). That’s who your audience really is and these are the people who are going to help ensure your success or failure.
  2. Your Response Matters. The community at large is looking at all of your responses and, honestly, making an assessment about how your business relates to customers, so being a jerk is really out of the question. Take the emotion out of it, or, if possible, hire someone else to write the response. Also, if you screwed up, admit it. Look, no one is perfect and everyone really is suspect of a business that only has 5 star reviews. Embrace the review that calls you out. Let the customer know they are right and that you have listened to their concerns. Whenever possible, let them know what changes you intend to make, you will look much more favorably to the audience-at-large and potentially gain more customers.
  3. Going beyond the Response. If you can reach out to the customer, always try that. You don’t have to mention that you spoke to them in your response, but you certainly can, if it is relevant.
  4. In the end, you can’t win them all. But you can gain in other areas. Again, there will always be those people who write bad reviews. I had one guest complain once that their crackers were dry. Seriously. But to argue with a customer about having dry crackers was really not an option. Instead, we thanked them for their time in writing the review, apologized that we did not exceed their expectations, and ask them to give us another try. They may or may not be back. However, an honest apology and true concern go a much longer way with future guests than a response about how crackers are supposed to be dry ever will.

In the end, though not everyone is going to love you all the time and they now have a public forum to vent their grievances, take the high road and know that everyone else is watching.

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