For service-oriented small businesses, websites like Yelp offer great exposure and can be a fantastic marketing tool, provided you’re getting good reviews and high ratings. If your reviews have been bad and your ratings have been low, it’s likely to have a negative impact on your business as would-be customers reading online reviews are left with an unflattering impression.
While there isn’t much you can do to get negative reviews and ratings removed, there are several strategies that offer damage control. You can also take customer criticism constructively, and use it to guide you to a better way to run your business.
Yelp Damage Control 101
Yelp does allow people on the business side of things to post responses to reviews and ratings. If you feel a customer has been unfair, you have the option of saying so and explaining your reasons for feeling that way. If a customer has a legitimate gripe and you want a chance to respond, post your side of the story and let readers decide for themselves.
Most people have enough Internet savvy to know that there are trolls out there, and there are also impossible-to-please customers and unsavory individuals who revel in broadcasting their thoughts and impressions to anyone who will listen. If your responses are calm, collected, measured and plausible, chances are good the average reader won’t be swayed too much by the existing bad review.
One other word of advice: if the written word isn’t your strong suit, have an employee or a friend help you write your response. Posting poorly written responses rife with typos and bad grammar project a negative impression, which is the last thing you want to do if you’re trying to win back customers.
Build a Better Business
If you’ve been getting reviews and ratings which are consistently low and customers are pointing to the same reasons, it’s time for you to take a step back and evaluate the root cause of the problem.
Is there an aspect of your service model which could be improved? Is there a particular employee who isn’t treating customers the way you want them to be treated? Are people visiting your business for a specific reason and finding that they’re not getting what they came for because of supply chain or inventory problems? If so, you need to take action.
Providing better customer service simply requires that you treat the people who visit your business with respect and serve them in an efficient and friendly manner. If one of your team members isn’t towing the company line, it might be time to assign them to different duties or hire someone new. If you’re struggling to keep popular items available to customers, find ways to improve your inventory and supply chain management.
Once you’ve made the necessary changes, you can build on the previous damage control strategy by posting responses telling customers that you’ve altered your approach. More and more, customers are valuing honesty and transparency in the businesses they shop at, and chances are good that you will find them to be forgiving if you demonstrate a willingness to adapt in the face of constructive criticism.