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Don’t Lose Your Cool, Says Yelp Local Biz Outreach Manager

It can be extremely frustrating for a business owner to receive a negative online review and lose potential customers – especially if the review is an unfair one. But according to a Yelp executive, it’s critical to not lose your cool. Just take the high road and respond diplomatically to the review.

These are the words of advice that came from Darnell Holloway, local business outreach manager at online reviews aggregator Yelp, in a recent interview with Charlotte Observer’s Jennie Wong.

“Stay calm and take some time to think about what customer service policies you have in place in the offline world,” Holloway said, “(Then) apply that same logic when dealing with online reviewers.”

(Check out: “Managing Bad Reviews: What Else You Can Do After Writing a Response”)

According to a recent study by market research firm Ipsos, the purchase decisions of close to 80 percent of US consumers are influenced by online reviews. It’s natural, then, that a passionate business owner might react angrily to one-star ratings and critical reviews: the negative feedback can cause potential loss in revenue.

“It’s never easy to receive critical feedback,” Holloway said, “but we feel the best responses are those that are handled diplomatically. If you find yourself getting too emotional over your reviews, you may not be the best person to respond. Try appointing an office manager, or employee you trust as the point person to manage your online reviews.”

Why is it so important to not lose your cool over bad reviews? Well, for one thing, you want to put out the fire – not spread and make it bigger. Also: you probably don’t want to make the same review response mistakes that a few auto dealerships have made.

Apart from the tips shared by Holloway, we’d like to add a few more. Hopefully, by following the best practices in managing and monitoring online reviews, you can turn the negative into positive and convert customers’ rants and frowns into raves and smiles.

Monitor reviews regularly. Oftentimes the source of frustration over a review is the fact that a business owner has been caught off-guard. That he or she has been surprised. It’s true: sometimes, it’s not about the actual review content (which may provide constructive criticism anyway), but the timing and the way the content has been delivered. By monitoring online reviews regularly, you – as a business owner or manager – can stay on top of what’s being said online by your customers. You won’t miss new reviews, you won’t be surprised, and you’ll have plenty of time to prepare and figure out what to do in order to respond effectively to your customers’ feedback.

(Check out: “Getting Bad Reviews? Try Improving Your Phone Service”)

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Find ways to improve service. Sounds like a cliché, right? But excellent service really does go a long way towards improving the customer experience. No matter the kind of business you’re running, no matter what industry you’re in. Holloway said: “We recently did a study that found that Yelp reviews that mention ‘good’ or ‘great’ customer service are over 5 times as likely to give a five-star review rather than a one-star.

Have a policy in place. Managing your online business reputation can be tricky, especially given the fact that so many online review aggregators (Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Google+ Local) are powered by customer-generated content. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t create a system for responding to their content. Have a policy in place. Assign a staff member who’ll take ownership of managing your online reviews. Most importantly, find a way to systematically measure data and analyze the information these reviews provide. By doing so, you can gain insights about your customers and make smart decisions that will improve the customer experience delivered by your business.

Crystal Shuller

Crystal is the Director of Customer Happiness for ReviewTrackers. She's known around the office for E-mails that make everyone smile, and she has a bag of tricks and tips to help businesses solve their problems and delight their customers.

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