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Yelp in Your Words – Meet Tom W. of The Highway (Plympton)



Tom Williamson, Marketing Manager of The Highway, recently sat down with us and shared a few of his best practices when it comes to responding to reviews on Yelp via their business owner’s account. Here’s what he had to say:

What are some best practices you can share with fellow business owners when it comes to receiving a critical review about your business?

Your business isn’t always sunshine, rainbows and lollipops. Sometimes your product isn’t spot on, sometimes your staff aren’t spot on and sometimes there’s just something about your business that people don’t like. Receiving critical reviews keeps us in the know about how we could improve our offering – to be frank, I prefer receiving a constructive critical review than a positive review because it gives me something to work on and possibly improve.

I always respond to critical reviews but keep one thing in mind: Don’t. Be. Defensive.

As business owners and marketers, it’s easy to jump straight in and start replies with “yeah but…”. Yeah but don’t. Read the review a few times, send it to another colleague to read and if you can, someone outside the business. Put yourself in the reviewer’s shoes and try to understand their perspective. Sometimes they might be wrong, sometimes they might be right – whatever the case, be polite and take the criticism onboard.

Do you respond to both the positive and negative reviews about your business?

Yes. For me, it’s important to show appreciation for the time and effort it’s taken someone to write a review. A quick “thank you for your review…” message for positive review goes a long way. A few weeks ago, someone I sent a message to came in again and mentioned how nice it was to receive recognition.

When do you think it’s most appropriate to direct message a reviewer?

I mostly message reviewers directly because there is often very little value to other Yelp users in me publicly replying. Plus, I think it’s nice to receive a direct message from a brand, it helps build a relationship and form a connection between the business and the reviewer – whether the review was good or bad.

When do you find the public commenting tool most appropriate?

Admittedly, I haven’t publicly commented on a review because I haven’t felt the need to. For me to publicly reply, the review would need to contain incorrect information and the greater community would see value in my public reply. Information such as the reviewer reviewed the wrong venue or the reviewer mentioned a product not sold by us.

Are there any steps you take within your place of business after receiving a constructive, critical review?

As a business, we use Chatter (an internal social media platform), both positive and negative reviews are shared on Chatter. This sparks a conversation between staff about how we can further enhance the features described in a positive review and how we can prevent the events described in a critical review from reoccurring.

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