Winning Over Yelpers (and Other Business Dreams)

As a smart consumer, it’s impossible to wrestle me away from review sites. If I want killer Ma Po Tofu, I’m going straight to Yelp. If I browse through Kayak and everything is telling me “Garden Suites Queen Bed, No Smoking,” I’m stopping at Trip Advisor first. It happens when I’m on Zappos or Amazon, determining whether it’s going to be smoking slippers or a Dyson Upright Bagless Cleaner. What did everyone have to say? What were the reviews?

Consumers can’t escape review sites. We trust them to provide us with accurate, comprehensive information that we feel is somehow hidden from us. We believe that the glossy literature from the ad campaigns is enticing, but only part of the whole picture. We buy in to the notion that Moe R. from Ohio has a better understanding of a product than the business itself.

That’s why part of the trick to excellent marketing is to address what your customers would question or doubt. Accept that there are going to be issues. Everything in life has them. It’s your duty to engage in a dialogue with your customer base, so that you can build solid relationships and gain integral feedback on your products.

But how do you begin a positive, successful dialogue with your customers?

Of course, you aim for copy that fully immerses itself in understanding the psyche of your potential buyer. You preemptively address concerns or arguments against your products, including them in your FAQ pages or building them into your campaigns. But there still is a wall between you and your customer. The campaigns can only anticipate a dialogue; the response time can’t be immediate – a lot goes into developing unique, enterprising campaigns. This includes time and money.

Review sites are a unique opportunity for business of all sizes to work at an exciting level – directly with the consumer. With smart reading, a good business can quickly glean what changes they may or may not need to make. The response time is instantaneous. Managers can post replies instantly, addressing issues and offering promising solutions.

What’s better? Even if you aren’t a business that can be listed and assessed on online review sites, you can still reap the benefits. Here are three of the most consistent themes of a bad review:

Rip-Off One: Products not as promised. This is seemingly obvious. A large number of negative reviews are prompted by faulty or missing components, as well as by things that just don’t do what they say they’re going to do. There’s nothing more annoying. Make sure you don’t make any claims that you can’t back up.

Rip-Off Two: Poor quality and consistency. Similar to the first, this is also a deal breaker. If your dough tastes like cardboard, no one’s going to pay to eat it. And if sometimes you’re knocking them out of the park, but can’t be depended upon to perform this good every time – you will lose them.

Rip-Off Three: Awful customer service and defensive responses. It matters how a customer feels when they interact with your business. There are plenty of reports from customers that feel company representatives were rude to them. Maybe they even felt attacked. Worse, some businesses will try to argue with customers that they don’t have the right to their complaint – they’re too sensitive, they didn’t see it “the right way,” they don’t even know what they saw. This is a surefire way to make some enemies. Respond and react accordingly, and with some grace.

Once a Yelper or any reviewer has a single bad experience, it might steer them away for life. It’s a lot harder to win someone back than to simply keep them. On the other hand, most people want to see things succeed. They don’t want to feel depressed every time they try to make a return or terrified when they get their oil changed.

So pay attention. Think about the three common rip-offs that turn Yelping into howling, and if you’re lucky enough to have a business that can get plugged into a review site – waste no time. Get it up and make a commitment to read through your reviews consistently. You may stumble upon hidden issues that can be solved rather quickly or that will at least inspire strategic resolution. Opportunity for improvement is equivalent to making room for success. And without a good forum, who’s going to notice all of your compliments? You deserve to know your hero stories, too. A little flattery can do wonders for the complexion – and it certainly won’t hurt your bottom line.

Speaking of flattery, we love to give it. How does your business win the hearts of Yelpers? Or have you noticed other major mistakes being committed? Be sure to comment below! 

Photo credit: Geraint Rowland

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