Yelp! Not just a stubbed toe

Posted by admin | Uncategorized | Thursday 25 February 2010 11:57 pm

Yelp! is not just something you do when you stub your foot–it’s a website that lets customers post reviews of businesses online. This is an increasingly common practice, especially for dissatisfied customers. This means that the businesses are having to offer better services, better products–and even free stuff!

To many customers, user-review sites have become the go-to destination for determining the best nearby services, with ratings on dentists, cafes, bars, mechanics and other businesses.

The freebies many owners are offering to salvage their ratings include free meals, exchanges for faulty products and second tries on services such as botched haircuts, Sterling said.

“This ups the ante for businesses,” he said. “You can’t really hide anymore.”

The rest of the article is mostly about the ethics of dealing with customers over Yelp–but it’s well worth a read. Yelp! is a website which can encourage web libel against many businesses, so it will remain relevant.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-reviews26-2010feb26,0,5795837.story

INTERNET

When customers yelp, everyone can hear it

Online reviews play a key role in local businesses’ reputations. Owners are taking note — and often action.


Hollywood transplant Caroline White figured a spa outing would be the perfect way to welcome her visiting mother to Los Angeles. ¶ But to hear White tell it, their afternoon last summer at a Mid-Wilshire spa was anything but relaxing: The facialist was late, the staff was rude and the business refused to offer an immediate refund. ¶ So the aspiring actress did what she always does when a business disappoints: She wrote a scathing review on Yelp, one of the many user-generated-review websites popularized in recent years. ¶ In the past, the spa’s owners might have ignored White’s online rant or not even seen it. But these days, many owners are acutely concerned about their online reputations and are offering disgruntled customers freebies, do-overs and other incentives to reverse harsh critiques on websites such as Yelp and Citysearch, industry observers say.

White felt the effect of that concern firsthand.

“I get a call from my mom saying, ‘You need to take your review down or they’re not giving me my money back,’ ” she recalled.

White’s experience, though relatively extreme, isn’t unique.

“It’s become a higher-stakes game in the last year as sites have become more popular,” said Greg Sterling, an analyst who looks at the effect of digital media on consumer behavior. “Before, someone might have said, ‘I’m never going to go there again,’ but that was word of mouth. It wouldn’t show up anywhere. But now it’s all public.”

“You can no longer, as a business owner, ignore criticism. You have to address it,” said Sterling, founder of Sterling Market Intelligence.

No one publishes hard data on how often business owners offer perks to dissatisfied customers; many of the exchanges are proposed in private messages and fulfilled offline. But anecdotal evidence shows the practice is becoming increasingly common.

The literature on dealing with angry reviews is growing, Sterling said, and third-party companies are popping up with promises to generate positive reviews and suppress negative ones. One company, Seattle-based Marchex Inc., aggregates and analyzes user reviews for business owners in a process it calls “reputation management.”

To many customers, user-review sites have become the go-to destination for determining the best nearby services, with ratings on dentists, cafes, bars, mechanics and other businesses.

The freebies many owners are offering to salvage their ratings include free meals, exchanges for faulty products and second tries on services such as botched haircuts, Sterling said.

“This ups the ante for businesses,” he said. “You can’t really hide anymore.”

The Long Term Effects

Posted by admin | Uncategorized | Monday 22 February 2010 10:14 pm

By now the entire world has heard, and re-heard, the story of Tiger Woods’ fall from grace. However, the much less discussed story is how the events have effected his reputation. There is no question that his reputation, and his corresponding online reputation, has suffered–but the question is, “how much?”.

Tiger Woods started down the long path toward attempting to resurrect his once-stellar reputation on Friday, a task crisis-management experts say will be years in the making.

Mr. Woods chose the clubhouse at the TPC Sawgrass golf course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., where the PGA is headquartered, to deliver a tightly scripted and solemn apology about his extramarital affairs.

“It was a good but tiny baby step toward an image rehabilitation job,” says Howard Rubenstein, chairman of Rubenstein Communications Inc., whose clients have included Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner.

Robbie Vorhaus, a crisis reputation adviser in New York, said it was important that Mr. Woods took full responsibility for and admitted to the affairs. “He said everything someone in a public position who has fallen should say,” he said.

The whole episode has been an excellent lesson in international reputation management.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704511304575075820380149134.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Put A Lid On It

Posted by admin | Uncategorized | Tuesday 16 February 2010 12:02 am

The Japanese car company, once known for it’s domination in the field of quality and customer service, is now suffering a very public downfall. Of course, not all of it could have been avoided–but certainly some of it could. The Guardian, that venerable newspaper from Britain, has some opinion writing on the subject from a professional.

Central to Toyota’s problem is its perceived delay in identifying and addressing the situation in the first place. Whatever Toyota says now, and however well it acts, there is a sense that it ignored the problem until it was forced to take action. Corporate denial appears to have been the order of the day, with the company following the advice of the Japanese proverb: “If it stinks, put a lid on it.”

The solution was certainly not to “put a lid on it”–perhaps proverbs don’t impart quite as much wisdom as is generally thought. A more competent search engine reputation management campaign should have been launched immediately.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/feb/09/pr-view-toyota-reputation-management

Know Thy Enemy: Social Networking

Posted by admin | Uncategorized | Thursday 4 February 2010 11:21 pm

Microsoft, always with an eye for business, is reminding young professionals that their social networking could get them in trouble some day. Applying for jobs is a long and arduous process—and employers often plug their candidates’ names into search engines looking for addition information. If a picture of you holding a beer with no shirt on is what they receive, then you can kiss that job goodbye, whether you interviewed well or not.

Microsoft is warning people that in their social networking fever, they could in fact be shooting themselves in the foot. The HR professionals in the US which rejected job candidates because of data found by simply performing an online search on the person indicated that the top factor considered was unsuitable photos and videos shared with the world, along with examples of the candidate’s lifestyle and even inappropriate comments expressed by the candidate. It is clear that the time when a consistent CV, experience or studies were the only deal breakers when it came down to getting a job is gone.

Microsoft is ahead of the curve—many young professionals do not realize how many of their potential employees are using search engines to check them out. Some reputation management will be needed to repair the damage done by social networking.

http://news.softpedia.com/news/Microsoft-Protect-and-Manage-Online-Privacy-and-Reputation-133299.shtml