In a smartphone-connected world, peer review sites like Yelp are becoming ever more important for customers choosing where to spend their money. A few years ago, a negative Yelp review might not have meant much, but statistics today indicate peer reviews are increasingly the deciding factor in consumer spending. No matter what your business is, the consumer in-store experience is almost entirely in your hands. Their post-purchase review, though, is completely out of your power. Or is it? In fact, this is a common misperception by many businesses. Peer review sites give you the opportunity to continue shaping a customer’s experience, and to influence the buying habits of would-be customers doing research before they spend. To wit, a decision to ignore Yelp reviews is a costly mistake.

When 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, disregarding negative reviews means you’re losing an opportunity to correct a bad experience. Statistics show that just one bad review can lose you up to 30 new customers. In fact, even if a potential customer already chose to do business with your business, spotting a negative review before their purchase will cause 80% of them to reverse their decision.

One recent study indicates a 20% increase from 2015 to 2016 in the number of consumers using a peer-review site like Yelp at least monthly. As of 2016, a staggering 95% of respondents say they’ve searched for local business reviews online. More tellingly, only 9% of consumers do not read reviews.

While consumer desktop research holds strong with 78% of those studied saying they’ve checked businesses out online, those using mobile for research is growing at a staggering pace. Between 2015 and 2016 saw a whopping 60% increase in mobile users searching for reviews. That means, in 2016, 63% of consumers researched company feedback on smartphones before spending their hard-earned cash.

With all that in mind, here are five more reasons you should never ignore Yelp reviews.

1. To Gain Management Insight

If a customer reports a bad experience in your business, Yelp can provide the time and date of this experience, so you know whether there were external variables beyond your control at that time, and help you identify staff involved in the incident. If staff-related, you may be able to make valuable human resources decisions to drastically improve consumer experiences. While management can’t always be around for customer interactions, Yelp reviews can fill in those gaps and help you get the best out of your employees.

2. To Mitigate Unfair Reviews

Reviews are opinion-based by nature, so, usually, there’s little you can do about a review posted by a paying customer. Sometimes, though, consumers can have unrealistic expectations of your business and will complain as a result. In these cases, it may be possible to appeal these reviews. For instance, getting a 1-star review because you don’t sell all-beef hamburgers in a vegetarian restaurant makes no sense. If you fail to notice such a complaint, that 1-star review lowers your overall score.

But how bad is a single 1-star review? Well, two Berkley economists did a study that showed a ½-star increase in a restaurant’s star rating could mean a 30-49% likelihood a restaurant would sell out its seating during peak hours. Appealing unfounded reviews, like “no beef burgers, is not only possible, but could make that ½-star rating difference. When it comes to appealing these unfair reviews, our team has both the know-how and the framework for doing so.

3. Establishing Communication

When a customer speaks out about an experience, good or bad, and receives acknowledgement for their comment, it validates their feedback and can open dialogue toward even better experiences in the future. Post-purchase communication can turn first-time customers into repeat customers if they feel you’re listening and genuinely care about them. A bonus to this kind of post-purchase engagement means they might come to you with concerns in the future before turning to Yelp to voice a complaint, which could help you to change negatives into positives, while protecting your star-rating. 

4. Setting the Tone

If your business repeatedly makes comments and feedback toward all peer reviews on Yelp, undecided consumers may see your corporate engagement as a positive toward their spending decisions. When their buying choices come down to your business versus another, but it’s only you who seems to speak to concerns, offer suggestions, and show gratitude, that may establish the perception that you’re a company that cares about client experiences from start to finish.

5. Learning How Customers See You

Most people, and companies too, lack objectivity in looking at themselves. In this sense, Yelp reviews can be invaluable for helping you learn where improvement is possible. Yelp reviews might provide insights you’d never reach on your own. Maybe your café chairs are too uncomfortable, so instead of buying a second coffee and a pastry, clients leave earlier. Perhaps your store lighting is so low that customers can’t see what’s on some shelves and don’t make as many purchases as a result. Maybe your music is too loud for conversations, causing people to decide against returning. Perhaps your bathroom isn’t clean enough, suggesting a lack of hygiene behind the scenes. By reading reviews for experience details, rather than just the positive/negative slant, you can learn from feedback and make changes that will grow your clientele.

Use Yelp as a Business-Growth Tool

Too many businesses feel powerless over Yelp reviews, but they lack proper perspective. Yelp reviews are a chance to learn about your customer’s experience, a means to grow your business, an opportunity to engage with consumers in the valuable post-purchase period, and a means of controlling public perception after consumers leave the building. Our Yelp review monitoring will get you more from your post-purchase consumer experiences, and turn one-time purchasers into loyal clients. 

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