Have you ever left a bad review on Yelp?
I am not talking about the reviews about the snippy waitress, or the clothes piled high in the dressing room. I am talking about the review that cannot be changed because you just plain didn’t like the place. You know, the food had canned tomatoes–and you will never, ever, eat pizza with canned tomatoes; or the retail store with everything made out of cheap plastic—not gonna spend a cent in their either. Sometimes you just know what you like and when you don’t get it, you don’t go back…but why then did you write that review on Yelp? It is not going to change, it is their business and you don’t have to like it. Why do we leave reviews?
Well, this is a dilemma in the social media realm. We came, we shopped, we ate, we complained, and then we moved on, right? WRONG.
We don’t half-halfheartedly put these reviews on Yelp just to fill our time, in fact, we do it because it makes us feel good. Whether its venting our frustration, or describing the awesome texture of the Creme Brule, we feel empowered and happy when we give our opinion of a business we just spent time in, so why is it so hard to get the business to notice us? And when they do notice us, why can’t they follow the rules? (Er, there are rules for Yelp, right?)
I recently left a two-star review to a chain restaurant I was dragged too by a coworker. I left my thoughts, including a glowing review of the waitress who went beyond to be attentive and nice. A few weeks later the manager sends me a message:
“Dear Yelp Reviewer: I am so sorry to read about your experience. I would love to touch base with you about your visit. You can reach me at my email xx or at the restaurant #. Tim”
I should have been thrilled, right? This guy is most definitely going to offer me some coupon, but is that really what I was asking for? In this case there really wasn’t anything he could do to change my mind, there was nothing to fix or amend, but when I got the message, I totally freaked out. “Tim? Really? He wants me to call and write him a note?”
I think there needs to be an etiquette to Yelp owners/managers. Here is my list of ways to make reviewers happy:
- Respond within the first 24 hours of your normal business. That is a fair process. I once had a business respond six months after I left a seething review about cold food and a waitress who thought I was being picky. When I got the message from the owner, he was shocked and wanted me to come back and get a free meal. I wrote him back and said that six months is too long for me to ever consider coming back–because if it takes him that long to pay attention to his business then it was no wonder the food was cold and his employees were inconsiderate. If your business relies on reviews, then reviews are something you need to “review” daily. Any response is a good response because it tells your customers you are proactive and caring about their needs.
- When you respond, keep your distance. Tim had the best intentions of making things up to me, but asking me to call or write? Hmmm, that is a bit to close for comfort. If I had wanted a personal interaction I would have asked for the manager and complained about the soggy salad, in fact I told the perky waitress it was horrible and left it uneaten, my guess is that she should have offered to give me my money back right there, but that is a whole other story about training and empowering employees. It’s too much of you Tim to ask me to contact you! You got my “number” say your peace, right there, in public so everyone else can see how you respond. Not everyone is looking for a Gift Card.
- When you respond, get to the point. I had one owner send me a ten paragraph response about her personal life tragedy. I had complained that the Groupon she was offering was misleading and that her employees didn’t understand what was being offered. First, it took her 2 months to respond, but worse than that, she gave me every detail of her divorce, the kids, moving, bla bla bla. Really? Just apologize like a professional and then tell me I can come back to meet her and straighten it out. That is what I am owed, not a life story.
- Compliments are Nice. Seriously, they are really, really nice. I left a review for a coffee shop that I loved near my home, and mentioned in the review how much I missed one of the baristas. One week later I got a compliment from the barista, who had moved away for school, thanking me for being a loyal customer to the shop and to look out for her over the summer. *sigh. Warm fuzzy feeling for the shop who hires the best people ever, and also for the barista who cares enough to read the reviews of her employer and can respond on their behalf. That is truly Yelp at its best!
- Check-In’s Should Be Encouraged. There are some places I check in just so my followers know I am there, again! I know, it’s a bit narcissistic, but I love the place so much that I think everyone should get with the program and come over. Why then does the business not notice my excellent attendance? Sure at first I was looking for coupons and a free appetizer, but after that I am your loyal fan. I am proud of my visits and want the world to know I am in a serious relationship….why don’t you acknowledge my love and support? Start a check-in Fan Club and offer me a free cookie on my next visit? Put my Yelp Name up on your wall as Yelper of the Week and then take a picture and post it? Encourage me, please.
- Respond. Respond. Respond. There should be some penalty for a business that doesn’t respond to their Yelp followers. Social Media has given you, business owners, the perfect system for gauging how your business is doing and yet you do not even care to take notice of it. Sure some people are just pissed off and give you a one star, but what about all the other people who love you? Anyone can tell you that when you use Yelp to make decisions, you read most of the reviews, and look at the reviewer. If there is someone on there with two reviews, no profile photo and they slammed both businesses….well we don’t take it serious, but the super star with 600 reviews? Their word is a serious contender for truth. So it takes you one hour a week to hit compliment, or say thanks… is it worth it? YES!!! We want to be heard, and if you are a serious business, you want to hear what people have to say so you can adjust the menu, or change staff, or just know that you are on the right track.
And what about Tim, the good-hearted manager? Well, its sad really, because I felt like I was breaking up with him when I sent off an email. In this particular case, no matter what he offered me I just wasn’t going to accept canned tomatoes on a pizza and I thought that if they knew that, they might just change their menu, not just for me, but for all the pizza aficionados who want real ingredients.
So reach out and shake the virtual hands of your customers! Thank them, enlighten them, amuse them, gently stroke their egos…we are the customer and we genuinely want you to succeed, that’s why we write reviews. Have a Yelp Club of your own and offer us fun little thank-you when we check in over five times. But mostly, just acknowledge that we are out there!
Why do you leave Yelp reviews? Come on, share something….