Do you own or work with a hospitality business in the North Bay? If so, then I’m guessing you have a love-hate relationship with customer review websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google reviews, and even Facebook reviews.
If you operate a local business like a restaurant, hotel, or winery, then customer reviews should be a cornerstone of your digital marketing efforts. Maybe you have ignored this advice because you’ve received a couple negative reviews from an online troll, or from a customer who left a review without ever having stepped foot in your location, or from a former employee who left on negative terms.
Or perhaps you’ve received a seemingly endless amount of sales calls from one of these sites. However, these customer review websites make employers roll their eyes, it’s important to remember that these sites are a vital part of obtaining customer feedback.
Feedback from real customers is valuable to any marketer. It allows you to make honest evaluations of the positive aspects of your business, as well as some things that you may need to change.
Review sites like Yelp are also great for SEO (search engine optimization). These websites often come up first when Googling your business. Even more importantly, Google reviews come up first when someone is doing a general search for something like “Russian River Valley Wineries.”
I talked to a few people who work in hospitality in Wine Country and came up with a list of 13 things your hospitality business should focus on when it comes to review websites:
Create a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document that can be shared with your team to make it easier to respond to comments. Add the document to Dropbox or a shared Google Drive folder and make sure to have at least 10 answers to the questions your team hears most frequently online, over the phone, or in person.
Make sure to not share the same canned comment every time. “Customers can tell when your response appears to seem like a script or template. Respond in a sincere, honest way,” says Aphrodite Caserta, marketing and communications director at Safari West. When responding to a question, take the answer and write out a personalized response based on the commenter’s experience.
Answer almost every negative review. “If the comment is negative, wait until you are not upset to respond, and remember – even if the customer is wrong, they are right because it is their experience. Approach the response with that in mind, apologize, and offer to make it right,” says Sarah Giometti, founder and head strategist at Provaro Marketing in Rohnert Park, who handles online review sites for many of her customers.
Respond through proper channels. I did say “almost,” because I know that not everybody plays nice sometimes. If you find yourself with a review is mean-spirited, factually wrong, or from a former employee/online troll, try to go through the proper channels to get rid of the comment.
If you cannot get rid of it, however, remember to answer with a clear head. You could do more damage if you respond harshly.
If the customer is mean-spirited or simply wrong about something, you don’t have to apologize, but it still wouldn’t be in your best interest to call them out or try to make them feel bad. Say you will look into the matter and ask them to connect with you personally.