As a business owner, you probably have a sentiment about customer reviews that will rise and fall like a tide at full moon, depending on how these reviews are affecting your business. Hoteliers, for example, know that high season usually brings more profit, but at the same time, volume challenges can bring down service levels and cause lower ratings and painful reviews.
For restaurant owners the story is a little different. A good customer loyalty base and a strong, well-developed offline and online business reputation is key to success. Many strong opinions have been expressed regarding the unfair influence of Yelp and how it can make or break a business. If, as a business owner in general, or specifically as a restaurateur, you find yourself navigating the flow of reviews and reviewers it won’t come as a surprise that customers pretty regularly pull out the “Yelper Card.”
What is the Yelper Card?
If you are among the lucky one percent of business owners who’ve never had the card pulled out, rest assured many industry colleagues envy you. Why? Because a card-pulling customer is just the kind of customer who threatens to leave a negative review if you or your team drop the ball or fail to cater to his/her needs in a manner suited for royalty. The Yelper-card-pulling customer craves attention and finds great pleasure in receiving upgrades, special treatment, and freebies.
To be fair, if your goal as a business is to consistently deliver best practices and strive for ultimate excellence, it would be to your benefit to establish a culture in which every single customer is treated as if they have been tasked with creating the review that will launch a business into stardom.
What to do about Yelpers?
Yelpers are here to stay, and any business will have to engage with one at one time or another. As a matter of sound business strategy, it is important that businesses draft specific policies related to the manner in which both staff and management will handle customers prone to waving the Yelper Card. To be clear, this is not the customer who is experiencing a shortcoming in service that is relatively out of your control or one that is having a radically good time. The Yelper we’re talking about here is the customer that reminds you of their status as a reviewer prior to starting any interaction with your venue.
As you draft your policies regarding Yelpers and implement staff training around these policies, it is very important to remember basic premises of service:
- All customers deserve your best.
- Perform for a present and future audience. Your actions will set service precedent.
- The golden rule always rules. Do unto others… (you know the rest!)
Finally, from a more technical perspective, it is important to keep track of your reviews and get to know your repeat advocates and detractors. If you have repeat negative reviews from the same customer, take a look at their overall pattern across many businesses and deal with it accordingly.
The best policy when it comes to card-carrying Yelpers is to establish a culture of excellence and readiness. Make that part of the DNA of your organization.