Whether you like it or not, Yelp can play a big part in bringing new customers into your local business. Internet-savvy consumers often seek out online reviews when deciding where to take their business, and the content of those reviews can affect their decision to give you a chance to make a first impression.
If you’re new to Yelp, you may not realize that you can use your own Yelp account to reply to patrons who have left reviews on your profile. This gives you an opportunity to address experiences mentioned by customers, right wrongs, and gain loyal fans. However, before you start replying, you’ll want to think about how you should respond on Yelp. A thoughtful approach can help you turn even a negative review into an opportunity for positive exposure.
First, always remember that responding on Yelp isn’t private; anyone who visits your profile will be able to see an exchange you have with a reviewer. In the case of a negative review, you have to fight the knee-jerk reaction to become defensive. You run the risk of turning off more than just the person you’re responding to directly by being dismissive or hostile online.
To keep bad reviews from dragging your Yelp page down, here are two positive strategies:
Treat Every Complaint as Valid
Every complaint should be treated as valid, even if you doubt a reviewer’s sincerity. Maybe the reviewer said they came in on a day you were closed, or named an employee who doesn’t work at your business. Nobody has a perfect memory, and small mistakes like this don’t completely discount a review from the get-go. However, many business owners take errors like these and run with them, even going so far as to call out reviewers publicly as “fake” or “out to get them.” Don’t do this. Attacking is more likely to drive away potential customers than persuade them.
The best way to respond to a negative review, whether it cites a specific incident or not, is to invite the user to contact you directly so you can get the details needed to make things right. It’s then up to the reviewer to reply, but your response will at least show them (and others!) that you’re listening and considerate.
Personalize Your Response
Just as each customer has a unique experience with your business, your interaction with each customer should be unique. Take the time to personalize a message when you respond to reviewers to show your customers that there is a caring individual behind the words on the screen. Cut-and-paste replies create the appearance that customers aren’t worth the time to craft an individualized response. Even if you respond to bad reviews with offers to address negative experiences, a list of identical messages will be obvious to browsers scrolling through your reviews, and will reflect poorly on your customer service skills.
Future customers will take your Yelp reviews seriously, so you should too. Be diligent in monitoring your online reputation to see where you can improve and to give your customers the positive experience of being heard. If you handle negative feedback with calm, positive action, you can connect with your community and gain loyal fans.
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