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January 23, 2012

Don't Lose Your Cool

While not a common occurrence, several recent news stories highlighted situations where business owners used social media to lash out at dissatisfied customers. We won’t rehash those stories here, but it’s important to note that this approach often results in unwanted publicity for the business involved -- see Barbara Streisand.

We know that negative reviews can sting, especially after dealing with a difficult client or customer. But instead of unleashing your frustrations on the reviewer, take a step back, take a deep breath, and reflect on some other, more productive ways to respond.

Now more than ever, consumers are likely to share their experiences -- both good and bad -- with others online. With that in mind we’ve outlined five steps to success for managing your reputation:

  1. Start with great customer service  Generally speaking, most successful businesses place an emphasis on making sure their customers feel great after they walk out the door. A recent Forbes article noted that with the popularity of social media, business owners should “treat their customers as if they were newspaper reporters.”
  2. Stay cool  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. Also note that if you see a review written by someone with an “orange head” and no friends, it may not be worth losing sleep over. Consumers on Yelp naturally gravitate to reviewers who have an established presence, and that’s generally where your time is best spent, too.
  3. Respond diplomatically  Use Yelp’s free review response tools to join the conversation about your business. You can respond privately or publicly, but always take the high road. If you feel like a review goes against our terms of service, you also have the option of flagging it for evaluation by our user support team.
  4. Implement feedback  Online reviews can help savvy business owners figure out what they’re doing well, and what they can improve on. We’ve met with several business owners who go over Yelp reviews with their employees during staff meetings, and implement constructive feedback accordingly.
  5. See step number one  Yelp is about connecting people with great local businesses. If you consistently put your best foot forward, people will notice!