A few weeks ago, I was looking for a new restaurant for my husband and I to try in a nearby town. I turned to Google to find more information on a pub-style restaurant and discovered that the eatery did not have its own website. What turned up first in the rankings instead? A Yelp site with unflattering comments like this 1 star review: “They have obviously cheapened the food and abandoned what made this a great spot. We will never go back.” That was one of the nicer comments. If a restaurant doesn’t have a website and all you can find online are diatribes of bad customer experiences, you might think that customer relations are not a priority for the owners. Very few people are going to spend their time or their money at an establishment that doesn’t value them.
The lesson here: your customers are going to talk about you online. Use that conversation to win them back if they’re unhappy, and to keep them coming back if they love you. One Constant Contact customer who does this well is In A Pickle in Waltham, Mass., owned by Tim Burke. They’re a breakfast and lunch place that serves up dishes like caramel crunch French toast with a fun atmosphere, and they’ll do anything to please their customers – including keeping tabs on customers’ parking meters. If the meters are running out of time, the staff will drop in another quarter in so customers won’t get parking tickets.
In A Pickle’s customers adore the restaurant and have flooded Yelp with positive reviews. A recent post about Yelp on openforum.com mentioned In A Pickle; Burke told the writer that between 30-40% of his business comes from Yelp. They have 4.5 stars and 187 total reviews, which In A Pickle frequently posts on its Facebook page and its Twitter account with thanks for the author. The few negative reviews usually include some words of praise and sometimes revisions after the writer gave the restaurant a second chance. In A Pickle encourages the reviews – they link to Yelp in their weekly newsletters – and responds to complaints and suggestions alike. “This kind of customer service is above and beyond,” said one Yelp reviewer who changed his rating after Burke reached out to him. Feedback is an opportunity for businesses – ask for it, embrace it and grow from it.