3 Tips to Managing Online Feedback

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Public profiles are scary to business owners. Having a profile in networks like Yelp and Google+ Local (formerly Google Maps) can be a tough thing for business owners to handle. They want the exposure but are afraid of the ever-looming public review. I know a handful of small business owners who completely shy away from addressing Yelp and/or Google+ Local because the thought of negative online feedback causes serious psychological damage. The fear is that negative reviews will drive customers away.

I recently had the opportunity to listen to a panel of SMB owners talk about Yelp. These dudes were all stars. One of the business owners, who runs a cleaning service, said that on average he gets 100 new customers a month from Yelp. 100 new customers? Wow!

Each of the business owners cited similar results. Here are some of the tips they shared to help manage reviews on profiles like Yelp:

1. Respond and do it quickly

One of the business owners mentioned that he has been known to pull off the side of highways when he gets alerts so he can respond immediately to reviews. Clients like being heard and responded to in a timely manner.

2. Capture feedback before it goes public

By constantly soliciting customer feedback, reviewing it, and responding in a timely manner, you get the chance to address some negative experiences before the customer’s feedback has a chance to go public. Sometimes responding to a negative experience and resolving the issue can actually lead to a raving fan. Sometimes customers just want to be heard. Better by you than by the thousands who’ll view their opinion online.

3. Use the feedback to improve your business

One business owner mentioned that they learn a lot about personnel and processes by carefully reading through their Yelp reviews. They’ve gotten ideas and suggestions about how to improve products and services, and when clients see them actually paying attention and improving things, they love the business more.

Managing customer feedback can be daunting, but can also have big pay-offs. Pay attention, be genuine, and be “local.”