By Jennie Wong
The Charlotte Observer (MCT)
This week, “Ask the Mompreneur“ interviews Darnell Holloway, Yelp’s manager of local business outreach in Charlotte, N.C.
QUESTION: As a small-business owner, what can we do to handle online feedback in a constructive way?
ANSWER: In January 2013, Yelp had 100 million unique visitors turn to the site to help them make a spending decision. Given this, small-business owners should not ignore the conversations that are happening about them online.
While 80 percent of the reviews on Yelp are three stars or higher, every business out there will likely receive negative feedback at some point, because it’s impossible to please 100 percent of the people you deal with 100 percent of the time. With that in mind, we have put together some of our best practices for handling critical feedback:
-- Start with good customer service: We recently did a study that found that Yelp reviews that mention “good“ or “great“ customer service are more than 5 times as likely to give a 5 star review rather than a 1 star. Although it may seem simple, we find that the most successful businesses place an emphasis on making sure their customers feel great after they walk out the door.
-- Don’t lose your cool: Stay calm and take some time to think about what customer service policies you have in place in the offline world and apply that same logic when dealing with online reviewers. If you find yourself getting too emotional over your reviews, you may not be the best person to respond. Try appointing an office manager, or employee you trust as the point person to manage your online reviews.
-- Respond diplomatically: We understand that it’s never easy to receive critical feedback, but we feel the best responses are those that are handled diplomatically. Business owners can choose to respond publicly or privately, but either way, we recommend taking the high road.
-- Implement feedback: Online reviews can help savvy business owners figure out what they’re doing well, and what they can improve on. We’ve hosted small-business events across the U.S. and have heard many business owners tell us that they regularly print out Yelp reviews and bring them to weekly staff meetings in order to share them with their employees and implement constructive feedback accordingly.
For more information on Yelp’s free suite of tools for business owners, check out https://biz.yelp.com.
Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book “Ask the Mompreneur“ and the founder of the social shopping website CartCentric.com. Email her at TheJennieWonggmail.com.