By Andrés Uribe, Expedition PR
Professional critics generally visit a restaurant several times before writing a review. Yelpers on the other hand may shoot out a horrible review after only walking by an establishment.
Regardless of how the review gets on your page, or how much thought went into it before going up, Yelp reviews are something restaurant owners have to deal with. Here are a few tips/cool examples of how you can make the most of your Yelp reviews.
1. Own your reviews. While it might sound natural for a restaurant owner to flaunt their positive reviews, what should you do with those reviews that are a little less than flattering? San Diego restaurant Craft & Commerce had a very original tactic when it comes to owning bad yelp reviews, record dramatic readings of the reviews and have they played back through a speaker in the bathroom. Having personally visited this establishment, I can tell you that the recordings are hilariously awesome and go perfectly with a hipster-esque establishment that refuses to serve vodka or ketchup. While this strategy might not fit with the atmosphere of every restaurant, the message is clear, don’t shy away from your poor reviews. Just because you don’t put them on the front page of your menu doesn’t mean they aren’t read and something you should address.
2. Be weary of fake reviews. Nobody likes being lied to; so don’t lie to your customers. Yelp is meant to be a place where visitors to your restaurant are able to write about their dining experience after they have finished dining. It is not a place for you to flatter yourself on a public forum through multiple Yelp accounts. Nor is it a place to pay people to write good things about you and your restaurant. Eater.com actually features a whole section of their blog to sniffing out these less than authentic dining experiences.
This is a two-way deal though. Be wary of fake or unjustified reviews on your own Yelp page. Sometimes it could be a rival restaurant proactively trying to slam new neighborhood competition, someone who just walked by and didn’t like what they saw from outside, or a host of other reasons for writing a fake restaurant review. Although spotting these reviews and dealing with them can often be more difficult, one step is to complain to Yelp. While doing research for this post I came across a comment in the above-mentioned article from the owner of Goodbye Blue Monday in Bushwick, Brooklyn detailing a review he received from someone who had simply walked by his establishment. Within two days after I flagged the review on Yelp I received a response and the review was removed.
3. Be proactive. It goes without saying that a restaurant owner should monitor his company’s yelp page and respond to poor reviews. And how you respond matters a lot too, but for starters one should keep in mind that looking defensive isn’t always the best look on Yelp. Though beyond monitoring and replying restaurant owners can go a step further and offer patrons a way to easily complain about a poor experience directly to management.
Before Yelp was ever a thing ‘I would like to speak to the manager’ was usually the phrase uttered after a less than spectacular dining experience. Now a customer will leave upset and head directly to Yelp the moment they get home to vent their frustrations to the world. Stop this bad review before it happens by giving your customers a way to vent to you after they leave the store. With the receipt, provide your customers with an email address and telephone number where they can reach someone to vent their frustrations about their dining experience. Although this tactic will not work for every customer, it will work for some and turn otherwise bad Yelp reviews into potential repeat customers, depending on how things are handled.
Ultimately, whether you like it or not, Yelp matters to the success of your business. Ignoring your reviews will not make them go away. So make sure that you’re on top of your Yelp page and actively working to give customers the best experience possible.