Yelp reviews help people decide where to spend their time and their money. It is estimated that 145 million people look at Yelp reviews each month.1 And yet, many retailers ignore Yelp on a store level. They don’t claim the listings or even know what local customers are saying about their neighborhood store. As Yelp continues to grow in importance in a customer’s journey, it is imperative retailers stop ignoring Yelp and start embracing it as a way to strengthen customer relationships.
Why Should You Care About Local Yelp Reviews?
Businesses need to care about Yelp reviews because 92% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase.2 Retailers need to think like a local and pay close attention to what’s happening on Yelp to protect their market share. You can send out an amazing offer to attract new customers, but if those recipients see bad reviews on Yelp with absolutely no response from the store, they won’t be inclined to make the trip.
Big brands can’t rely on name recognition alone. Consumers want a good experience when they try something new. Breaking out of a comfort zone isn’t easy, and it is important to set good expectations for new customers. When reviews are positive and when the store interacts with customers on Yelp to address concerns, and even to engage with positive reviewers, it builds trust.
How One Retailer Embraced Bad Yelp Reviews
One Lift361 customer recently learned the importance of Yelp reviews to their business. Sales were suffering at specific locations, and it wasn’t until someone in leadership looked at Yelp that they realized where a significant part of the problem originated. A few new employees who were not properly trained made some serious errors in dealing with long-time customers. Those customers took to Yelp to air their grievances, and those reviews sat unanswered long enough to have an impact on attracting new customers.
When the Yelp problem was identified, leadership sprang into action. Not only did they recognize they needed to work to train new employees more thoroughly, they also developed a plan to use Yelp to help strengthen customer relationships. Reviewing Yelp pages became a regular part of the weekly managers’ meeting, so every store knew what was being said. Managers were trained on responding to both positive and negative reviews constructively to show the community that they go the extra mile to make customers happy and set things right when a transaction or interaction goes wrong.
The Future Of Yelp Reviews
It’s easy to see how Yelp reviews are important today, but Lift361 is looking toward a future where it will even be possible to assign value to Yelp reviews. If you were able to identify that a customer who left a 5-star review is worth $500, for example, and someone who gave a 1-star review is worth $25, it would be easy to see how online reviews impact the bottom line.
Though assigning value is something that isn’t possible just yet, since Yelp does not give access to that data, it’s critical to start thinking in those terms. Retailers should focus on understanding that even if a sound dollar value can’t be assigned today, local Yelp reviews do impact sales and lifetime customer value. National leaders should make Yelp a priority at the store level. Customers are interacting with stores, so take the time to leverage the opportunity.________________________________________