Word-of-mouth has found a new home in online reviews and your bakery’s reputation can be made or broken based on the opinions of people online. As a business owner, you should know how to use reviews to your advantage rather than getting hung up on the potential negatives. Not only do online reviews give your bakery mass exposure and free advertising, they let you react to what is being said to play an active role in your own reputation.
STRATEGY #1: RESPOND
First things first: respond to your bakery’s reviews. Online reviews give you a unique opportunity to engage with your customers that you might not have had before. Responding gives the reviewer a positive outlook on your bakery and it lets other potential customers that you care enough to take the time to listen.
Devote one person to the task of responding so that the tone remains consistent. This person should have a calm, friendly writing style that matches your bakery’s brand. They should have the authority to resolve any complaints, but good enough judgment to know when to hand off a review to a more senior staff if necessary.
STRATEGY #2: ENCOURAGE REVIEWS
Encourage all of your customers to write a review. Frequency is a strong tactic because it increases search ranking and potential customers view your bakery as popular. Let the customer know that if they absolutely loved your Valentine’s Day cupid-shaped cookies, they can sing your praises online.
While it is appropriate to ask your customers to leave reviews, make sure you are sincere. Don’t specifically ask them to leave a good review. It can do quite the opposite of what your bakery strives to do: leave a bad taste in your customers’ mouths.
Additionally, don’t offer incentives for reviews such as coupons or discounts. Not only will these reviews sound forced or be filtered out, but they oftentimes go against the terms of the review site and you could land yourself in hot water.
What you can do is ask your customers to leave reviews without being pushy simply by giving them multiple opportunities to do so. You can try strategies like:
- Putting a note at the bottom of your receipts asking to leave a review of that day’s service;
- Embedding a button on your website that takes customers to the review site.
Since you have no guarantee that the reviews that will be left will all be positive, you need to know how to handle the negative ones.
STRATEGY #3: USE BAD REVIEWS AS OPPORTUNITIES
You wouldn’t let already overbaked cupcakes simply keep baking, would you? The same common sense can be applied to negative reviews. If you let them go unchecked, they are sure to burn you.
First, address them and do it quickly. This is your second chance to make things right. Writing in the same calm and friendly tone you use for acknowledging positive reviews, you own the issue and then offer to fix the issue. Make sure to describe how this issue will not happen in the future since addressing reviews are as much for a potential customer as they are for satisfying the currently upset one. Use your judgment if you feel like you need to move the conversation to a different platform, like your bakery’s email.
Remember, if the negative review is providing constructive criticism (rather than someone clearly having a bad day), address the problem with your staff and use it to change your bakery for the better.
All the helpful tips from above can be applied to reviews you find anywhere, including Yelp. But Yelp also has a few functions you should know that are specific to the site which will be very helpful when planning your overall review management strategy.
You should know that you can get some reviews removed by flagging them based on some of Yelp’s content guidelines such as:
- Posted by a competitor or ex-employee
- Contains false information
- Doesn’t describe a personal consumer experience
This doesn’t mean that you should take issue with every negative review you see. Reviewers still have the right to express their opinions, just take them as a learning opportunity.
Due to Yelp’s filter, some reviews get allotted to the “not currently recommended” section where your bakery might have a hidden, sincere 5-star review. Reviews are evaluated based on a few key components, but the component that you can have an impact on is the “user activity.” This takes into account how many reviews and friends a reviewer has on the site.
You can reach out to the positive reviewer, not only to thank them for the feedback but let them know it is being hidden because they aren’t active on Yelp. You can also add that person as a friend and mark their reviews as useful.
You should view online reviews as a new public forum and use them to talk to your customers. People want to be heard and understood. If you value their opinions and react with style, your client base will grow itself.
If you want more positive reviews, start internally by making sure your bakery is the best it can be. See how BakeSmart can help streamline your bakery. Schedule a demo of BakeSmart today to learn more.