• Sara Mays

Are Your Sales Impacted By Online Reviews? YES * 3 Steps to Manage Online Reviews

Last week, I attended a small business expo and, not surprisingly, two of the most popular booths were Yelp and Google. As I made my way past one of them, I heard a business owner complaining about a negative online review. He explained that he didn’t even know who the customer was and believed the review to be false.

We live in a world where people post things online and say things behind the safety of a screen that they would never say to you in person. It isn’t always honest, but it’s reality. So you can put your head in the sand, or jump in and learn how to manage the information.

Perhaps the reviewer had never actually been a customer of the owner I overheard complaining, but it prompted the owner to claim his business on Yelp that day. He learned that responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% of consumers noting this as a factor when judging a local business.

Consider that 97% of consumers look online for local businesses. 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. 68% say that positive customer reviews make them more likely to choose a particular business. But 84% of consumers said they can’t spot a fake review. That’s why it’s important to respond to all reviews, especially negative ones. We’ll show you how.

(Yelp and Facebook are the sites that consumers trust the most. We’ll share insight specific to Yelp, but a similar process can be adopted for comparable sites.)

#1. Own

Yelp has a great business support system that you can schedule time over the phone to claim your business. Will they try to sell you an ad? Yes, but you don’t have to buy anything. I spent an hour on the phone with a fantastic guy name Kevin that works specifically in my area. Having his local knowledge was invaluable to me as I set up my page.

#2. Learn

Large companies have budgets for customer service shops that they use to validate customer service standards. Think of Yelp as a free customer service assessment. As your company receives more reviews, you will no doubt identify patterns. Celebrate the positive feedback with your staff and use the negative reviews to improve your business. Issues could be related to staff training on your return policy or physical layout issues related to moveable fixtures. Remember if one customer is saying it, others are thinking it.

#3. Respond

Public responses reflect that you care for your business. Responding to bad reviews as well as the good ones demonstrates your concern. Thank the customer for the feedback. You may suggest they ask for you by name when they visit again, so you can thank them personally. Perhaps you could give them a discount on their next purchase or a free beverage.

Yelp also has an app for business owners, so you can receive notifications on your phone when you receive a review. It’s a great tool, but with the caveat that you may feel obligated to respond immediately each time a review is posted. If that becomes overwhelming, we recommend setting time aside each day to focus on and respond to online reviews. This will allow you to learn from the feedback and respond more thoughtfully.

Be especially careful responding to the negative reviews. Take a breath before typing, and maintain your professionalism. Be polite but brief. If you can’t do that, then do not respond until you’ve had time to process. At that point, you can thank them for the response, and let them know what you have changed because of their feedback. Encourage those customers to seek you out on their next visit, as well.

If you suspect the review is fake, you must still be professional. Yelp recommends direct messaging the individual, but if that doesn’t work, you should respond publicly and professionally. Let them know that you’ve tried to reach out to them privately to discuss the matter because it appears your business has been confused with another business. You can then state a couple of facts – We don’t have an employee named Mary and our inventory selection doesn’t include handbags. If you’re comfortable doing so, encourage them to visit your business.

Online reviews are impacting your business, and we can help you develop a customized process that fits you. Let’s work together to move your business forward.

Sara Mays

Principal Consultant

The Retail Coach Consultant Group – NY

· Statistics from Data Bright Local