We should be ashamed of ourselves for writing such a silly title!

But there it is.  It’s too late to change it now.

Anyway, last week we talked all about branded content and how lovely it can be when you offer something of value to your customers instead of a bunch of self-promotional hoopla. We went over how important it is to understand your customers so you can do things that make them happy. This week, we thought you’d like to know how you can interact with them to learn everything about them—what do they want, what do they find valuable, what color socks are they wearing?

Okay, maybe you don’t care about that last part (unless you actually happen to sell socks…) but you get the idea. You want to find a place where you can go to learn about these good people who are keeping you in business, but preferably not the Psychic Network.

We’ve written a little bit about how social media can help your business in previous posts, but the site we’re focusing on today, Yelp, is a little bit different from what we talked about with sites like TwitterFacebook, and Linkedin. It sort of resembles Foursquare but it’s not exactly the same.

What makes Yelp especially well suited to learning about what your customers are thinking is that it’s a consumer review site. The main function of Yelp is to provide folks with a space specifically meant for voicing their opinions of local businesses. If you’re a business owner, this can be a really great tool to help learn about your customers and resolve customer service issues because it can provide you with that direct and honest feedback you need.

Yelp is comprised of local business listings where users can search for businesses to review, learn about, or recommend to others. It lists businesses like dentists, restaurants, beauty salons, bars, etc. The site gets over 50 million unique monthly visitors, so it’s kind of a powerhouse.

To get started on Yelp you first have to add your business to the site. Don’t forget to fill out the whole profile. An incomplete profile is frustrating for someone who’s trying to find out more about you. Plus, it makes it look like you don’t really care, and that’s not true. Remember to keep it fun and interesting because this too is branded content (remember our discussion from last week? Of course you do.)

Once you’re on there, you can wait for reviews to start rolling in. Be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed so you’ll always know when something new pops up.

Feel free to invite your customers to write a review on the site to help kick things off. You may even offer them a discount for doing so, but be careful not to solicit a specific type of review. So, if you’re all “Hey Buddy!  I’ll give you 50% off your next purchase if you go to Yelp and tell everyone we totally rock!” you’re going to anger the Yelp gods and you don’t want to do that because they will smote you and stuff. Besides, it would defeat the purpose if you bribed people to write positive reviews because you want to know the honest truth about how people are experiencing your brand, which leads us to our next thing: How to deal with feedback of all kinds—even from the cranky pants people.

Dealing with positive feedback is easy. You acknowledge the customer, thank them, ask them to remember you next time they need something, maybe you even toss a coupon their way, etc. But handling negative feedback is a different story. It’s actually a good thing to get some negative feedback because it might alert you to issues you didn’t even know you had!  But when somebody says something bad about your business, it’s like a punch in the face. Tempting as it may be, you can’t get defensive about things. Instead, publicly address the customer’s issue and work with them to resolve the problem. There’s a good probability that that negative feedback will turn positive if the customer walks away feeling satisfied. Additionally, other people reading that interaction will see your great customer service in action!  Sending the customer a private message and apologizing probably isn’t a bad idea either. It makes it personal and that can be kind of nice.

Another great way to use Yelp is to help you drive traffic to your place by offering special offers and discounts. There are also nifty little tools you can use to view business trends and track your ROI with stats and charts on your Yelp page!

As a business owner, you know that there’s nothing more important than getting customers through your door except keeping them once they’ve come. Yelp can help you do both. In fact, it provides you with the tools and information you need to create the holy grail of customers—brand evangelists!

Leave a Comment