Today’s guest post is from Luther Lowe, manager of local business outreach at Yelp, where he answers business owners’ questions about how the site works, as well as how they can leverage social media more effectively to grow their business. Yelp for Business Owners is a free tool available for business owners in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
It used to be that if you found a fly in your soup, you flagged down your waiter and exchanged words. If you enjoyed a particularly scrumptious dish, you scribbled an enthusiastic note on the comment card included with your check.
While many consumers still provide feedback face to face, many more are having these types of conversations online through user-generated review sites such as Amazon, Trip Advisor and Yelp. They often share and read about experiences before making a purchasing decision.
As scary as that seems, these sites are arguably the best things to happen to small-business owners. In addition to democratizing the business landscape by providing free marketing for great local businesses and services by its customers — ones that likely couldn’t afford the advertising budgets of competitive, big box brands — user-generated Web sites also provide unbiased feedback on what a business is doing well and where it could improve.
And business owners shouldn’t exempt themselves from this discussion.
Web sites that provide a channel for business owners to communicate with customers as well as have a voice and personality online are proving to be the most successful in effectively harnessing word of mouth.
When participating in a dialogue about your business, it’s important to remember that the exchanges you have online are just as meaningful as your face-to-face interactions with your clientele. Make the time to educate yourself on the provided FAQs, take the feedback to heart, and remember that each review is just one single opinion; it’s the collective set of reviews that matters most.
Image credit, iStock