Review sites like Yelp can offer a helpful service to the general public and give small local businesses a chance to gain word-of-mouth momentum no ad money can buy. But this open platform also means any grumpy customer can slam your business, affecting your reputation and, ultimately, sales. The good news is you are not powerless. Not only can you can make customer service lemons into lemonade by proactively mining your Yelp profile to address customer service issues before they break your business, but your active care and concern will gain you more social cred. So, if you’ve had a cranky customer slam you on Yelp, follow these 5 steps to get them back on your side — and maybe even add a few stars.
1) Regularly Review Your Profile
Don’t just wait for a friend to give you a heads up or stumble upon a nasty Yelp review. Proactively review your profile to get a general idea of what your customers’ experience is. Some disgruntled customers might give an unnecessarily bad review that is hurtful or unhelpful, and those can be addressed. But one oft-overlooked advantage of patrolling your profile is that you can use it as (mostly) unbiased and free market research. If you have consistent compliments or complaints about one aspect of your business, you can identify areas you need improvement in or get an idea of what it is that your customers are really enjoying. Plus, your presence will show that you are genuinely interested in your customers’ feedback, which helps strengthen your relationship.
2) Assess the Nature of the Complaint
When you come upon a negative review, take a moment to consider what is really prompting it — there is often a seed of truth in most complaints. Yelp is certainly plagued by anonymous trolls venting about things out of your control, and you can look at the reviewer’s profile history to determine whether or not you should attempt to remedy their grievance, but do take the time to weigh each complaint equally and look for an opportunity to resolve the issue.
3) Send a Private Message
If you have decided a review is worthy of response, direct message the reviewer first. Apologize and acknowledge their complaint (don’t try to make excuses), let them know you value their feedback and business, and offer a specific way to make it up to them. Also provide a direct contact number and let them know you’d be happy to help them personally, now and in the future. This personal gesture creates accountability that they may have not felt earlier. Even if they don’t respond, you can know you put forth the effort.
4) Leave a Public Response
If the reviewer was unresponsive to your personal message, leave a public response — not a rebuttal — letting them know you appreciate their feedback, are sorry for their experience, and would be happy to resolve the situation. Even if the customer doesn’t change their mind, this lets the community at large know that you value their feedback. Note, however, that you should never request a reviewer change their review (in a public or private message). This can make your gesture seem disingenuous. Pleased customers who are active Yelpers will often amend reviews for you.
5) Try to Get More Reviews
The best way to up your rating (and combat those negative customers) is to get more reviews. Let all your customers know you encourage and welcome their feedback. You can advertise in-store and on your website that you offer special discounts or incentives for customers who can show proof of a review—though, again, do not request positive reviews. This shows you are actively interested in two-way communication with your customers—and that’s customer service gold.
Have you addressed a customer service issue on Yelp? Tell us how you did it in the comments below.