Word of mouth is no longer defined solely as a chat between friends. Through sites like Yelp and social media platforms, word of mouth about dealerships, service centers and other businesses now reaches millions of people online in the blink of an eye. It would be impossible (and downright odd) for business owners to follow every single customer around, hoping to hear them talk about the experience they had at their business, but you can understand why they’d want to. This is incredibly valuable feedback.
Now, when someone chooses to share their experience online, it gives business owners the opportunity to hear that feedback, respond and ultimately make improvements to their business for an even better customer experience in the future. When presented with a new review on Yelp, take these three easy tips for responding:
1) Determine if the review warrants a response. A new review has been posted to your dealership’s Yelp listing…now what? For starters, determine if the review is positive, constructive criticism or downright negative. If it’s the latter of the three, it might be best to leave it alone entirely. It’s impossible to please 100% of your customers 100% of the time, and attempting to engage in conversation with a customer who appears to be difficult to please may only add fuel to their fire. However, since about 80% of reviews on Yelp are 3 stars or higher, more often than not your reviews will seem positive to neutral or constructive in tone and, in these instances, worth responding to.
2) Choose the tool best suited for the job. Once you claim your free Business Account on Yelp, you have a suite of free tools available, including private and public messaging tools, to connect with consumers who have written reviews about your dealership.
Sending a private message is much like sending someone a personal email and is visible only to the reviewer. This tool is best used to thank patrons for writing a positive review and is also a good first step to get more information from a customer about a less-than-positive experience.
You can also post public comments which, when used properly, can be your greatest PR tool. While you still want to address the reviewer directly, a public comment posts right underneath the review you’re responding to for all consumers to see. This tool is most effective when you respond diplomatically, thank the reviewer for their feedback and state your policy or clarify any inaccuracies in the consumer’s review. Sometimes, customers will even update their review after being approached by a business owner that uses Yelp’s messaging tools properly.
Click here for an example of a review update that resulted after 5 Point Mobile Auto Detail diplomatically responded to a customer’s 2 star Yelp review.
3) Craft a response anyone would be proud to call their own. We realize it can be hard to receive critical feedback, but we recommend that business owners respond professionally. Some find it helpful to have someone else read over their response before hitting the “send” button. Business owners should keep in mind that consumers are looking at the BIG picture about how a business is being perceived, so we recommend they try not to focus or obsess over one single review. It’s also great to pay some attention to happy customers by sending them a quick message thanking them for taking the time to write a positive review, much like what Wheels & Deals auto dealership in Santa Clara, Calif., did.
Businesses that are diligent in monitoring and responding diplomatically to their reviews will reap the benefits. Not only will they have the best insight as to where they can improve based on the constructive criticism they receive, they’ll also be viewed by their customers as a business that cares about their clients’ feedback.
Darnell Holloway is senior manager of local business outreach at Yelp. He hosts informational sessions with local business owners across the country to educate them on best practices for navigating the world of online reviews. He oversees Yelp’s Small Business Advisory Council, and delivers constructive feedback from the business community to the different divisions within Yelp. He also hosts a series of monthly webinars about Yelp’s free online tools, and regularly produces informative content for Yelp’s "Blog for Business Owners."