Expert Tips For Managing Yelp Reviews

YelpThe Harvest team recently sat down with Megan Longo, Director of Marketing at Flagship Restaurant Group, to learn more about how she manages social media and online review sites for their multiple properties.

Megan was a featured presenter at a marketing conference late last year and while the industry she is in may be different from ours, we feel her unique perspective and techniques can help organizations in any field become more prolific in their online marketing efforts, particular in terms of handling Yelp reviews.

With an average of 120 million monthly users, Yelp is one of the most trusted resources for online reviews. Businesses can set up a profile for free and customers can go to that profile to rate the business using a scale of one to five stars, and provide a detailed written review of their experience.

In our discussion with Megan, she was quick to point out the importance of responding to all comments, regardless of whether they are positive or negative. She also provided the following tips:

Responding to positive comments

A private thank you is more appropriate for positive reviews so you don't appear phony on your public profile, but you still acknowledge the review. In rare cases it may be beneficial to elaborate in a public comment when information in the review is incorrect. Example: “Hey John! So glad to hear you love our group rides. It actually starts at 6:30pm and not 6:00pm like you wrote- even better! See ya next time.”

Responding to negative comments

A short public note should be used for negative reviews to show that you care enough to resolve issues. This is not a place to get defensive or explain yourself. Follow through on your direct contact and do your best to understand and resolve the issue. Never reply to a guest while in an emotional or angered state of mind.

Integrate your offline tools.

Send a gift card to reviewers who had a particularly negative experience, inviting them to give your business another try. When possible, surprise positive reviewers with a handwritten thank you card (often the customers address information is in your POS system).

Along with this sound advice from Megan, we also suggest the following when managing your Yelp reviews:

  • Respond in a timely manner
  • Remember to humanize your responses and tailor them for each review (no cookie cutter responses)
  • Don’t get defensive or argumentative (remember – the customer is always right)
  • Keep answers short and sweet

And if you think Yelp and other online review sites aren’t worth your time, you could be inadvertently harming your business. A recent Nielson survey revealed that 84% of consumers trust word of mouth over any other type of marketing. Another study showed that 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and 52% are more likely to use a business that has positive reviews.

So, if you’re not yet taking advantage of this tremendous opportunity to build more brand awareness and start gathering reviews from your customers, the time is now. Set up your free Yelp account and keep these helpful tips handy so that you can reference them as your online reviews start coming in.