Embrace Online Review Culture

Yelp was founded in July 2004 in San Francisco, CA. They didn’t invent the online review, itself a reincarnation of business reviews that existed pre-digital age. But they are the most commonly acknowledged online review platform, so I’m using them here as a way of showing how old online review culture really is.

12 years!

It’s been 12 years since people have been leaving reviews on Yelp. And in those 12 years, online reviews have only gotten more common.

Every company gets reviews on Yelp, Google, Facebook, etc. But not every company treats online reviews the same way. After conducting a little research, it appears that there are four main ways companies think about and react to online reviews:

  1. Ignore it. These are the companies that either don’t know or refuse to acknowledge that their customers are posting reviews online. You can usually spot these companies for their negative reviews that go unheard and un-responded to. I doubt there is much success in belonging to this group.
  2. Fight it. These are the companies who take a firm stand against the customer-is-always-right mentality. They respond angrily to negative reviews which they deem unfair attacks on their business.
  3. Accept it. In this group, companies at least accept that online reviews are valid. They are aware of the main review sites and actively seek to keep their scores up.
  4. Embrace it. In this final bucket of companies, we find cultures that have graduated from simply accepting that online reviews exist to creating a full strategy around them. They respond to people who leave reviews, engaging with fans and detractors alike. They actively pursue reviews from happy customers and they address the problems uncovered in negative reviews.

You can only ignore something so long before it ends up hurting you. With online reviews, your best bet is to embrace their potential to improve your business.