The Grapevine

Wine Shop Customer Experience – Use Online Reviews, Don’t Let Online Reviews Use You

October 28th, 2014

To wrap up our series on creating incredible customer experience, we’ll take a look at online reviews and how you can use them to improve your customer experience, your business, and your bottom line. [level-members]

Many retail business owners see red when they when they hear the word “Yelp.” And rightly so: review sites like Yelp can be a minefield for small retail businesses given the freedom the general public has to vent, accurately or not, and the business owners’ need to keep calm.

We’ll leave for another day how best to present yourself when fighting inaccuracies in online reviews. Today, we’ll talk about how to use the reviews, good and bad, to your advantage.

Let’s take a look at the hotel industry for an example of how this might work. As the opening lines of this New York Times article points out, complaints and bad reviews can be valuable.

“When it was time for Omni Hotels and Resorts to start a new round of renovations, executives made a point of installing more electrical outlets and better bathrooms.

 The impetus for those upgrades? Complaints from travelers on review websites like TripAdvisor.”

The hotel recognized that the complaints they were receiving were valid and that they needed to be addressed. This is a key concept in improving your customer experience. You may not agree with folks are saying, but you have to listen. A random complaint here and there can be addressed individually, but as complaints coalesce into patterns, they have to be addressed differently.

Remember that it doesn’t matter, from the customers’ perspective, if customers don’t get it. That’s your problem, not theirs. Your choice is to either find new customers, educate the customers you have, or make the changes you need to make the customer experience better. Sometimes you have to go against what you know is right in order to correct a wrong. (And the Betamax VCRs were better than VHS, but they failed. Get over it …)

Most importantly, you need to make it clear to your customers and prospective customers that you’re listening and want to make your shop a better place for them to shop. Make the improvements if you can. And if not, explain why you can’t make them. Or why they’re taking more time than you’d like.