Reviewing Your Reviews

Have you ever had a memorable experience at a restaurant that you just raved about to your friends? The food was the best thing you ever ate, the servers were so gracious, and they even brought you dessert on the house because they overheard it was your anniversary? Do you go home and write them the best review on Yelp with 5 stars and all your praise? Probably not. You probably told a few people or commented to your spouse on the way home how nice they were and that you should “definitely go back.” Now let’s flip the situation – how many times have you had an awful experience at a restaurant and ranted about it online and to every person you ran into on the street? Now any person who looks for a French restaurant on Allen Street will see what a horrible time you had and will think twice before booking a reservation there.

Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth. Unlike word-of-mouth, online reviews never die down, though. They are out there permanently for anyone to see. People are now turning to Google Plus, Yelp, WeddingWire and other review websites to find the best caterer, wedding planner, dog groomer, and nail salon in town. You name it they can find a review for it. Now more than ever consumers are valuing the experiences others have had with businesses. They take the word of someone they don’t even know rather than risking a bad experience.

This new age of review-reading consumers has made it a must for businesses to keep up with their online presence. One of the first tasks you should complete as a business is set up your own Google Plus and Yelp pages. If you are a caterer that has been around for a while you may find that a Google Plus or Yelp page has already been claimed for you. These were probably set up by Google themselves. If you find this to be the case you can claim your page from Google or Yelp, it will just take a little legwork. (These links will help you navigate claiming your business on Yelp and Google.) Once you’ve claimed your page you can comb through your reviews. If you find that you have a generally positive review set you are in great shape! Keep up the great work and see our post on building reviews online.

If you have claimed your page and find that there are a few negative reviews do not panic. There are ways to increase your ratings and improve upon these reviews. Consumers like two way communication with brands now, especially when it impacts something as large as a wedding or event. Here are three things you can do to improve your reviews:

  • Start by responding to those who have left a negative review. Apologize for their poor experience and express that you have improved your service based on recent feedback.
  • Offer a discount for the customer to come try the service again.
  • Reach out to past clients to see if they can review you online as well.

There are also three things you do not want to do to improve your reviews:

  • Respond negatively or defensively to those who have left poor reviews. This will only reinforce the negative review.
  • Try to delete the reviews. It is unlike that you will be able to delete a review without filing a claim with Google Plus or Yelp. (If there is an extreme case on vindiction you can reach out to the review sites and have the review removed.)
  • Ask employees and/or relatives to leave reviews in bulk. Consumers can tell when fake profiles have been created for the purpose of reviewing a website. They become suspicious if you suddenly got 30 reviews in a two week period. Go the honest route and engage with consumers who genuinely enjoyed your catering services.