Business Owners Sound Off on Yelp

Jeremy Stoppelman points to an Inc. article that profiles three businesses and their attitude toward reviews on Yelp and how they deal with criticism:

Would Stoll consider responding directly to his critics on Yelp? “I think it is a lose-lose proposition,” he says. “You either wind up coming off as defensive or accusatory. There’s no way I would get on there and answer somebody’s review.”

Eric Kirsammer, owner of Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago, also avoids engaging his critics openly online. Instead, Kirsammer uses negative reviews as a tool to improve customer service . . . Kirsammer and his store managers now regularly check the business’s Yelp page for tips on what they could be doing better.

Sarah Dunbar, owner of Pretty Penny, a vintage clothing boutique in Oakland, California, says she makes a point of responding privately to each critical review . . . Dunbar says getting back to her online critics is just good business sense. “If there’s a legitimate complaint, I want to know how we can make it right for them,” she says. “I’ve offered people on Yelp my cell-phone number, my store number; I’ve given them the hours I’m working and asked them to come in to the store and talk to me.”

And from our survey last August:

  • Online reviews are a good thing and are helping us improve our business — 56.3%
  • Online reviews have helped get us new business — 32.5%
  • Online reviews have limited impact on our business — 30.7%
  • Online reviews sites are unfair because they often don’t give businesses a chance to respond — 12.5%
  • Online reviews are a fad that will eventually go away — 9.5%

Source: Opus Research, AllBusiness.com, August, 2008, n=631 US small businesses

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