Business owners make a strong case for responding to online reviews

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur collaborators are their own.

Yelp’s behind-the-scenes host and small business expert, Emily Washkovic, shares a look at this week’s episode of the podcast.



Courtesy of Yelp

The landscape of online reviews can be difficult to navigate, but harnessing their potential is well worth the effort. Yelp small business expert and host of the Behind the Review podcast, Emily Washkovic, reviewed her interviews with several business owners from past podcasts and gathered their unique approaches to online reviews—both positive and negative—and how they turned them into businesses an advantage. Let’s take a peek into their review books.

Using positive feedback as positive reinforcement

Positive feedback is a great way to reinforce what you’re doing right, but you can take it a step further. Play them offline to inspire yourself and your team, and use them to show your appreciation to your customers while making a good impression on future customers.

Robert Mair, CALA

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

Read more: The 360 ​​customer experience starts in the hiring process

We’ve put together a little book of good reviews — both like, “Hey, customers, when you’re waiting around, here’s this great book for you to check out,” but also, “Hey, Corey, you’re having a bad day. Read this.’ [Positive reviews] it made me really happy because i know most people don’t do reviews. But it means that these people have had such a stellar experience that they felt the need to tell strangers how cool we are. And that just makes my day.

Read more: Lessons from an entrepreneur: turning setbacks into comebacks

If someone takes time out of their day to write a review for you, the least you can do is acknowledge it. The least you can do is say thank you. I always love talking to them about their experiences and how much we appreciate them. If the client comes back on, it will see that I have replied. And if someone else is looking for our business, then they’ll also see how we’ve responded.

It all boils down to how people will relate to your business and how they will 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 acknowledges me and says, “Thank you for taking the time to write a review.” Because no one has to. And it means a lot to them.

Read more: 3 Lessons for Success When Opening a Second Storefront

Turning negative feedback into positive results

Negative feedback doesn’t feel good right now, but how you respond to (and apply) it can help you improve customer service, identify new business opportunities, and strengthen 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 feedback and the response is never immediate. I let it sit for a day or two. Second, I will write the answer in Word, on a document that cannot accidentally be published. And I will read it. I’ll re-read it and then maybe edit it. And I will finally post it.

If we’re lucky enough where we can track that person down to a specific order before I even contact Yelp, I’ll email them personally and address their frustration. We hope we can make amends. You know, often a negative review isn’t bad if it’s followed up online with a solution and showing how you resolved it.

Read more: Seeds of Wisdom from a New York Florist for Building Lasting Relationships

We make sure we understand, because I think if there’s a negative review, that’s a good time to teach, no matter what it is. Even if we haven’t done anything wrong, this is still a good learning moment. So we’re dealing with that. We try to respond to every single review to say “Thank you. It is important.

Read more: An unexpectedly memorable candle making experience

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

I responded to the review and told him that I didn’t think it was fair for him to hold us to a standard that he created rather than a standard that we, as a business model, ever set. From day one, we specifically said we were pre-order only. That was our service model all the way through, and we were never really going to be a walk-on. The only reason we [started to offer] walk was because of this 1 star review.

Read more: When pies are the catalyst for important conversations

[Reviewers] they want people to listen. I will listen to them and say, “I am taking action on this. I am 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 up. Without paying attention to these mistakes, I would never have known they were happening. You are a level of accountability for me to build a better business.

Read more: Excellent customer service starts at the top and runs through the entire HVAC company

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

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

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