Business owners make a strong case for responding to online reviews

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Behind the Review host and Yelp small business expert Emily Washcovick shares a look on this week’s episode of the podcast.



Courtesy of Yelp

The landscape of online reviews can be difficult to navigate, but taking advantage of their potential is worth it. Yelp small business expert and host of the Behind the Review podcast, Emily Washcovick, revisited her interviews with several business owners from previous podcasts and gathered their unique approaches to online reviews—both positive and negative—and how they turned them into business advantage. Let’s take a look at the critique answer booklets.

Using positive reviews as positive reinforcement

Positive reviews are a great way to reinforce what you’re doing right—but you can take it a step further. Take them offline to inspire yourself and your team, and use them to show your appreciation for your clients while making a good impression on future clients.

Robert Meir, CALA

The positive [reviews] I focus a lot. I think a lot of owners take that and go, “Okay, great,” and move on. I try not to. I take it to the staff and say, “Hey, look! Someone said something nice about you because it makes them feel good. And then they try to do better.

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We put together a little book with good reviews—both, “Hey customers, while you’re waiting, here’s this great book for you to check out,” but also, “Hey Corrie, you’re having a bad day. Read this.” [Positive reviews] it makes me really happy because I know most people don’t judge. But that means these people had such a stellar 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 time out of their day 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 client comes back, they will see that I replied. And if someone else is looking for our business, then they’ll see how we responded too.

It’s about how people will experience your business and see your business. And if you just let things sit there unanswered, [as a customer,] I’m more likely to go to a business that recognizes me and says, “Thank you for taking the time to write a review.” Because no one should. And for them to do that means a lot.

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Turning negative reviews into positive results

Negative reviews aren’t great right now—but how you react (and act on them) can help you improve customer service, identify new business opportunities, and boost your reputation.

If you have something good to say, say it now. If you don’t, take a deep breath. I personally respond to all negative reviews and the response is never immediate. I let it sit for a day or two. Second, I will write the answer in Word, in a document that cannot be accidentally posted. And I will read it. I’ll re-read it and then maybe edit it. And finally, I will publish it.

If we’re lucky enough to be able to track that person down on a particular order, before I even contact Yelp, I’ll email them privately and address their frustration. We hope we can make amends. You know, a lot of times, a negative review isn’t bad if it’s followed up online with a resolution and a demonstration of how you resolved it.

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We make sure to understand because in my opinion, if there’s a negative review, it’s a good teaching moment, no matter what. Even if we didn’t do anything wrong, it’s a good teaching moment. So we deal with it. We try to respond to every review and say, “Thank you. This is important “.

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I got a 1 star review once. It was the most hilarious thing ever. He was mad that we only had a pre-order. It was during the pandemic. I had no employees. It was literally just me and my husband. So I could only pre-order and couldn’t afford to hire people. It said everywhere that we only had online pre-orders.

I responded to the criticism and told him that I didn’t feel it was fair that he was holding us to a standard that he had created rather than a standard that we, as a business model, had ever set. We had made it clear from day one that we were pre-order only. That was our service model all the way, and we were never really going to go. The only reason we [started to offer] Walked in because of this 1 star review.

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[Reviewers] wants people to listen. I will listen to them and say, “I am taking action on this. I’m going to 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 mistakes to my attention, I would never have known they were happening. You are a layer of accountability for me to build a better business.’

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Listen to the episode below to hear directly from these businesses and more, and subscribe Behind the criticism for more from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.

Available on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Soundcloud

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