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Archive for June 10, 2016

Procrastination + Yelp Reviews = New Customers


online reviews


Life gets busy, and sometimes you just have to rely on the internet and user reviews. Sometimes it works out great, and sometimes not so much. This is an example of how online reviews led a customer to a new favorite restaurant.

My oldest daughter recently graduated high school. As one of three kids, life gets busy. Her graduation came up faster than I’d like, and there was much to do. Family members who planned to attend the ceremony grew quickly, and I realized I would need a reservation for a busy Friday night. Of course, I realize this on Thursday night.

I frantically called our family’s go to restaurant, and unfortunately they could not accommodate us until much later in the evening. Panicked, I turned to Yelp. I wanted a nice dinner for my daughter, and the restaurants I am familiar with in our area would either be too crowded or not quite what I envisioned for her graduation dinner.

I looked through reviews of restaurants in the area and came across one called Wheatstack. If you’re in the western suburbs of Chicago, I highly recommend it. They had mostly glowing reviews, some average, and some negative, but the vast majority seemed to like their experience. I was able to view pictures of the dining area, which was helpful in the decision making process. Luckily, they were able to accommodate us at the time we needed. So far, so good.

With anything new, I was a bit nervous. On top of it, the graduation ceremony ran a bit late, so we arrived 15-20 minutes after our reservation time. I was horrified and worried that they would not be able to seat us in a timely manner.

From the minute we stepped in the restaurant, I knew it was going to be good. The hostess was pleasant and reassuring, and said that they know things happen and it was no problem that we were late. The server was equally gracious and told me not to worry about being late.

The entire experience was fantastic. The best part of it all came at the end. When I apologized for being late on our arrival, I did mention we were at a graduation, but I thought nothing of it. When our meal was complete, the server presented my daughter with a cupcake and a card signed by all of the staff working that night. What a nice touch!

Lessons to take away from this experience?

  • Be aware of your online reviews: not just Yelp either. Be aware of your company’s online reputation. Either regularly review online content through a social media monitoring program or make sure the review sites are checked regularly. Address any negative reviews and make sure what’s being said is accurate.
  • When you have no reviews: it’s time to get some! Use Yelp and your own website as starting points. Encourage customers to leave reviews, good and bad. Encourage this on your social sites as well. Build a base of feedback so people who are using these sites as a starting point can see what you have to offer.
  • Include images where possible: being able to look at the dining area and menu items as posted by users was helpful in making a final decision. You can claim your business on Yelp, which allows you to add images, a link to your website, and other helpful information for potential customers. Once someone finds you, make it easy for them to get all of the information they need in one place. That will make all of the difference for panicked customers looking for something last minute.

This is an excellent case study of the importance of online reviews and how much customers can rely on them. Personally, I was exceptionally impressed with this experience and our family will be visiting this restaurant again. Of course I’ve shared the experience with my friends and family, and I’m sure the family members who were there will be telling others too. This is how visibility and word of mouth happen – it can all start from an online review site and grow from there.


Surprising Finds in Customer Feedback



Many times the focus of customer feedback is to learn about the “nuts and bolts” of a customer’s experience – was the cashier friendly, did the customer find what they needed, would they return and/or recommend the business to others?

However, there is other great information that can be gleaned from feedback surveys when the surveys are used in atypical situations (see below for more on this) or when the surveys are revised after a baseline collection of feedback to drill down even further.

Here are some examples:

  • Quieter shopping environment: Marks & Spencer, a large retail chain in the UK, recently learned from its customers that they very much dislike the piped in music. The retailer has recently decided to cut this out of their locations to please their customers. Who knew? Personally, I am used to music when shopping. My local JCPenney does not have music in the store, and its eerily quiet to me. Not a fan of that!
  • Email marketing: you may have a great volume of people on your list – some customers, some not yet customers, and some…well, you’re not quite sure why they’re there. They read your emails, but never engage with them in any way, and they never buy your products. Why not? Well, if you want to know….ask. Some who have done this very thing report that people choose to stay on an email list because they may not need the product right now, but may in the future so they want to stay in the loop. Others may just be interested in the value added content, but don’t need your product or services. You won’t know until you ask.
  • Zombie customers: if you have a subscription based service, you may find that you have many customers who subscribe but never use the service. Find out why – you may see that some have simply forgot they subscribed and are paying for a service that they don’t use. Others may simply have a limited need, or may not have found the exact features they were hoping for. Ask these customers more questions and you may learn about needed updates and features.

The above are good examples of how to effectively use customer feedback to go beyond the nuts and bolts of the service provided. Think of ways to use it to better engage customers and learn more about their needs and the value you bring to them; you may have some surprises along the way!