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Behind the Review host and Yelp’s Small Business Expert, Emily Washcovick, shares a look at this week’s episode of the podcast.
The landscape of online reviews can be difficult to navigate, but harnessing their potential is worth the effort. Yelp small business expert and host of the Behind the Review podcast Emily Washcovick revisited her interviews with several business owners from past podcasts and gathered their unique approaches to online reviews—both positive and negative—and how they turned them into a business advantage. Let’s take a look into their review playbooks.
Use positive reviews as positive reinforcement
Positive reviews are a great way to reinforce what you’re doing right – but you can take them a step further. Take them offline to inspire yourself and your team, and use them to communicate your appreciation for your customers while making a good impression on future customers.
Robert Meir, CALA
The positive [reviews] I focus a lot on. I think a lot of owners just take it and say, “Okay, great” and move on. I try not to. I take it to the staff and say, ‘Hey, look! Someone said something good about you because it makes them feel good. And then they strive to do better.
Read more: The 360 customer experience starts at the hiring process
We’ve put together a small book with good reviews – both like “Hey customers, when you’re waiting, here’s this cool book you can look at”, but also “Hey Korri, you’re having a bad day.” Read this.’ [Positive reviews] makes me very happy because I know most people don’t review. But it means that these people had such an amazing experience that they felt the need to tell strangers how cool we are. And that just makes my day.
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If someone takes the time to write a review for you, the least you can do is acknowledge them. The least you can do is say “thank you”. I always enjoy talking to them about their experience and how much we appreciate them. If the customer comes back, they will see that I have replied. And if someone else is looking for our business, they’re going to see how we reacted too.
It’s about how people will treat your business and see your business. And if you just let things sit there without response, [as a customer,] I’m more likely to go to a business that acknowledges me and says, “Thank you for taking the time to write a review.” Because no one has to. And it means a lot to them to do so.
Read more: 3 Lessons for Successfully Opening a Second Storefront
Turn negative reviews into positive results
Negative reviews don’t feel good in the moment—but how you respond to (and implement) them can help you improve customer service, identify new business opportunities, and strengthen your reputation.
If you have something good to say, say it right away. If you don’t, take a deep breath. I respond to all the negative reviews personally and the feedback is never immediate. I let it sit for a day or two. Second, I will write the answer in Word, on a document that cannot possibly be posted by accident. And I will read it. I’ll read it again, and then maybe edit it. And then I put it at the end.
If we are lucky enough to track this person down to a specific order, before I even contact Yelp, I will email them privately and address their disappointment. We hope to be able to make amends. You know, often a negative review isn’t bad if it’s followed up online with a resolution and a show of how you resolved it.
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We make sure we understand because in my opinion, if it’s a negative review, it’s a good teaching moment, no matter what it is. Even if we didn’t do anything wrong, it’s still a good teaching moment. So we’ll address that. We try to respond to every review to say “Thank you. It is important.
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I got one 1 star review once. It was the funnest thing ever. He was angry that we were only pre-booked. It was during the pandemic. I had no employees. It was literally myself and my husband. So I could only pre-order and couldn’t afford to hire people. It said everywhere that we were pre-order online only.
I responded to the review and told him that I didn’t feel it was fair that he was holding us to a standard that he had created and not a standard that we, as a business model, had ever set. We had explicitly said from day one that we were only pre-ordered. That was our service model all along, and we were never actually going to be a walk-up. The only reason we [started to offer] walk-up was because of this 1 star review.
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[Reviewers] want people to listen. I want to listen to them and I want to say, ‘I’m taking action on this. I enter my company. I will build a better company. Every time I thank them for it: ‘Thank you for the 1 star review. This is how I grow. Without you bringing these errors to my attention, I would never have known they happened. You are a layer of accountability for me to build a better business.’
Read more: Good customer service starts at the top and flows throughout this plumbing company
To hear directly from these businesses and more, listen to the episode below and subscribe Behind the review for more from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.
Available on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Soundcloud