I was reading NYMag and read the article Starstruck about how some business are trying to cheat the Yelp rating system by buying reviews. In my opinion this is a short term solution to the love hate relationship some business have with Yelp and other review sites. They love it when people say great things but get mad when reviews are less than stellar.
Yelp is the leader of the business and their big selling point to casual users is the honesty of the reviews. As someone who works with business and individuals I have been ‘asked’ to improve reviews on Yelp. Of course this isn’t a request for advice on improving customer service but instead a ‘get around’ negative reviews. I consider it immoral to critique for pay since it doesn’t really work. Anyone who’s experienced using Yelp or other review sites knows that you trust people who’ve been on the site and written numerous reviews. If they have signed up to just review one business it sends red flags. Any business that considers this to be a viable business model is looking at this as a short term fix. Rather your reviews are positive or negative on review sites these are great ways to make customers happy, to see what your doing right (and keep doing it) or see what your doing wrong (and fix it) but if your response is to game the system or cheat well you won’t get a lot of return or new business!
I recommend to my clients that they respond to the negative reviews to make it right. It can be anything from a ‘please come back’ and we’ll give you a desert with your meal or an offer to speak with the unhappy customer. If someone complains online using Yelp or Facebook they have felt that they were not heard and want someone to listen to their complaints. I tell my clients that even if YOU think it’s petty the customer doesn’t and they will complain until THEY get satisfaction. I also say that it’s important that you also acknowledge positive reviews also with a thank you or commendation of being the ‘Number One Customer of the Week’. Most people aren’t looking for a freebie but instead a acknowledgment or thanks.
My philosophy is that how you keep in contact with customers will always be evolving to keep up with technology but good customer service is the one constant in business. If you don’t make your customers happy well you won’t have customer and eventually you won’t have a business. So as I said at the beginning of my blog you can’t cheat to get positive reviews or ratings by buying customers. Instead you have to focus on the basis of great customer service and whatever product you sell so don’t waste your money!