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The Best Advice from Year One

Business owners talk about the stressors and reality of online reviews, and consumers share what makes them want to write a review.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Behind the Review host and Yelp’s Small Business Expert, Emily Washcovick, shares a look at this week’s episode of the podcast.

Courtesy of Yelp


When we first started this podcast, our aim was to dig deeper into the insights and business lessons that can be discovered on both ends of a Yelp review. It’s now been more than a year since the first episode aired, and in that time, we’ve gathered hours of valuable conversations with business owners and reviewers alike. As this whirlwind of a year comes to an end, we’re bringing you something different today for Behind the Review: a collection of our favorite insights and advice from these valuable voices over the past year.

We’ve heard from business owners from all over the country, in all different areas of expertise. Learning how to use reviews—good and bad—to the best of your advantage can be a tricky process, and at times, emotional. In these episodes, our business owners discuss their individual approaches to reading and responding to reviews, as well as the mindset shifts they’ve had regarding reviews.

A common thread in a lot of these conversations is the importance of staying customer-focused. At the heart of your business are the people, and acknowledging that will position you to approach their feedback in a productive way. “Customers will always be the middle point between success and failure,” said Chris Goode, owner of Ruby Jeans health food bar. Recognizing the importance of staying in touch with your customers is crucial to steering your business toward success.

Listening to your customers includes hearing both the good and the bad. Reading a negative review can hurt, but something that helped many of these business owners is learning how to grow and benefit from those less-than-glowing comments. 

“Even the most unreasonable Yelp reviews, there's some sort of kernel of truth that tells you, you know what? We can learn from this experience,” says customer service expert Jeff Toister. “We might get this type of customer again. How can we avoid the situation and do even better the next time around?”

Whether the review is good or bad, analyzing customer feedback can provide valuable information on improvable aspects of your business you might not be aware of. Having a strategy for looking at your reviews can help you make the most of them. When faced with a bad review, can you tell what happened during that customer’s experience? How can you avoid similar issues in the future? There might also be instances where you did nothing wrong, but knowing how to handle these reviews is a skill in itself.

Something else to consider is how to respond to the review, which is also visible to other consumers. Your replies are a reflection of your business and your customer service, and proactively reaching out to customers—whether that’s to say thank you or to fix an issue—is beneficial for that individual customer relationship as well as for those who see your response.

At the end of the day, it’s also important to remember that there are so many customers out there who want to express their appreciation. According to reviewer Marla, “If I want local businesses to continue to thrive around me, and if I want to continue to live in a city that is full of 5-star businesses, I need to reward them and give them that feedback.”

Listen to the episode below to hear directly from these business owners, reviewers, and more, and subscribe to Behind the Review for more episodes every Thursday.

Emily Washcovick

Written By

As Yelp’s Senior Field Marketing Manager and Small Business Expert, Emily is responsible for building a thriving network of local business owners, operators and marketers through education and networking events (now, exclusively virtual). She hosts events and webinars to provide business owners with resources that help them succeed and grow in the world of online reviews. Emily’s expertise lies in customer engagement, reputation management and all things digital marketing. Her knowledge encompasses countless industries and through thought leadership and speaking engagements, she’s able to share insights that business owners of all kinds can leverage for the future of their business.

Emily is also host of Behind the Review, a podcast from Yelp and Entrepreneur Media that features conversations with business owners and reviewers about their experiences—whether positive or negative —giving listeners behind-the-scenes insights and real life learnings.