Smart Strategies for Managing Online Reviews

Yelp Stock Photo
Photo by JaysonPhotography/iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus

Everyone understands that social media platforms—be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or Snapchat—play a huge role in bringing in new business. But without having a savvy online review page, such as Yelp, you’re missing a critical piece in your marketing formula. We talked with Emily Washcovick, Yelp Manager of Local Business Outreach, to find out how to create and maintain the best Yelp page—including how to handle both good and bad reviews.

Making a great Yelp page

Q What elements are absolutely essential for a successful hair salon or barbershop Yelp page? 
A
All businesses are going to see increased success and exposure on Yelp when they claim their listing and complete their profile through their Business User Account. Business owners can claim their Yelp listing for free on biz.yelp.com. Once they do that, they have access to a suite of free tools that not only update business information—for example their hours or website—but also add information about their business, the services they provide, the history behind their salon or shop and a little bit about themselves as the owner. Businesses can also upload an unlimited amount of photos to their listing, and in the case of a hair salon or barbershop, consumers want to see what their experience will be like before they come for their first appointment. We recommend uploading a minimum of 10 photos, and including images of everything from the outside of the business, to the interior, your salon chairs, your hair washing stations and even your staff. And, last but not least, try to include some amazing before and after hair shots.

84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Reviews, the good and the bad 

Q Some stylists “fear” Yelp because they feel like it creates “open season” for negative critiques. What’s your best advice for handling a negative review? 
A
Most reviews on Yelp are actually positive. Nearly 80 percent of the reviews on our site are positive, meaning three stars or higher. We also have more five star reviews on the site than one, two and three star reviews combined. With that being said, avoiding review sites like Yelp because you’re afraid of the negative causes you to miss out on the positive. Additionally, negative reviews can help build buying confidence in your potential clients, especially if you respond. Responding publicly to a negative review helps illustrate your customer service practices and also gives you a voice in front of your potential customers who look at your listing. When you respond publicly, you want to keep it professional, short and sweet. Thank the reviewer for taking the time to leave you feedback, address the concern they bring up and then provide a way to connect offline and complete your conversation. Sending a direct message to those reviewers helps you have a conversation with more detail of their experience in a one-on-one format instead of publicly. Additionally, responding to your great positive reviews can also help create a connection to your happy customers. Whether it’s public or direct message, responding to a positive review helps grow your business as well. 

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New salon-friendly features

Q What features on Yelp are particularly useful to salon owners, hairdressers and barbers? 
A
The two new features that are particularly useful to salon and barbershop owners are Request an Appointment and Check-in Offers. Request an Appointment allows consumers and business owners to communicate directly through Yelp. Business owners who have this feature visible on their listing have turned on their email notifications in biz.yelp.com to receive messages and email notifications when those messages come through to their account. And, they are able to respond back to the customer via the Yelp for Business Owners App or the email notification. Check-in Offers entice your mobile audience and offer them something when they are physically at your business and checking in on the Yelp platform. You get to choose what the offer is and you can turn it on or off at anytime through your Yelp for Business Users Account. It’s a great way to engage your mobile customers and spread the word that they are at your business.

Photography: Courtesy of Emily WashcovicK/YELP; getty images

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