Brian Ferdinand: Why and How You Should Deal with Online Reviews

Dealing with online material.

Brian Ferdinand has over 15 years of experience in advanced trading methodologies and technologies. Apart from working as COO for Vacation Rentals LLC, he is also an entrepreneur.

For businesses nowadays, promotion through word of mouth or traditional means is not enough. A strong social media presence is required, especially for small businesses that otherwise might not have the means to directly engage with customers. The existence of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram gives businesses strong tools for interfacing with clients, whether they are new, previous, or future customers.

Part of this presence includes dealing with online reviews made on platforms such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. Customers are more discerning with how they spend their hard-earned cash, and they want to make sure that they are getting their money’s worth. Yelp reviews, according to a study conducted by the Harvard Business School, reach a larger proportion of would-be customers than other forms of online media such as local news websites. With a total audience of 11 million users, one negative rating can snowball into two or even ten more, significantly pulling down an establishment’s score. In fact, each additional “star” on Yelp could account for as much as 9% in additional revenue for service businesses.

Even the best businesses deal with less-than-stellar reviews sometimes. While it is true that there are parties that do malicious reviews in order to shore up the competition, it is a good practice to engage with the reviewer sympathetically, taking into account all the valid claims and treating the review as a learning experience.

Best practices in customer service involve a combination of the following: calmness, diplomacy, consistency, and empathy.

The last thing a business owner would want to happen is to acquire a reputation for being hard-headed. This implies that the business is either not willing to listen to its customers and couldn’t care less about client satisfaction, or that it does not care a bit about its stakeholders. Calmness and common decency have to be employed to manage a customer’s irate mood and behavior, and to reassure them that all of their concerns are being considered thoroughly.

A personal touch can also surprise and delight the irate customer. For restaurants, having the chef respond directly to the review can mean a lot to Yelp or TripAdvisor readers – this could mean that he or she does not just treat cooking as a job, but also as a passion. A chef who’s always passionate about leaving customers satisfied is always bound to draw business to an establishment, whether it is a small inn or a three-Michelin star restaurant.

Sometimes, a dash of humor can be used to leverage what was previously bad exposure into a more positive one. For example, a certain meatball sandwich place once invited passers-by to try “The Worst Meatball Sandwich That One Guy On Yelp Ever Had In His Life”. Photos of the sign became viral and resulted in an uptick in income for the restaurant. The place has since moved on to another location, but the exposure left a lasting impression in terms of Google searches.

For smaller businesses such as boutique inns and artisanal restaurants, strong social media and review site presence are necessary to build and maintain good customer relations.

If you wish to get in touch with Brian Ferdinand, please contact him through this website.