Clipping services and other tips for keeping tabs on your brand
Then, Borgman used Yelp's messaging feature to contact each unhappy reviewer and invite her back for a complimentary visit. Each obliged, and all eventually revised their reviews. Two have become loyal customers.
"I'm not trying to bribe them," Borgman says. "I'm just trying to give them what they deserve. And I never asked them to repost - that would be completely inappropriate."
Borgman also began using a free online "clipping" service like Google's (GOOG, Fortune 500) Alerts that alerts her every time someone posts on the Internet about her business. "That way I know when something pops up that needs a response."
Within weeks, the spa's overall rating on Yelp improved from 2 1/2 stars to 4 stars.
Part of the challenge is getting customers to write in the first place. A Seattle window cleaning company discovered that many of its new customers were referred through the home services review site Angie's List - but only one in four clients eventually posted reviews.
"We have to get customers to write in to Angie's List if that's going to continue working for us," says Melinda Lucas, owner of Paneless Window Cleaning. "So I launched an employee contest." She announced that the window cleaner mentioned most frequently by name on Angie's List would receive a bonus at the end of the year.
"My employees have started encouraging customers to write in after they've finished the job," Lucas says. "It provides an incentive to provide better service, and already two of our guys have been named since we started the contest this month."
A New York City moving company asks every customer to post - even before the job has been performed. "From the first contact or phone call with a customer, we ask them to go online and write," says David Cohen, owner of Divine Moving & Storage. "You can't be afraid of these reviews."
It was this open, online dialogue that allowed Cohen to fix what needed fixing. When several reviews mentioned that Divine's movers showed up 15 minutes late, Cohen began requiring his workers to arrive a half-hour early. When a customer wrote that an item was scratched during a move, Cohen immediately sent out a carpenter to fix it.
By listening carefully to his customers, both in person or online, Cohen said he became increasingly confident that his services are the best they could be. In 2007, Citysearch editors named Divine Moving the "best mover in New York."
"When you know you're good and your employees are trained, you feel confident," Cohen said. "It all starts with a good product."
Yelp co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman says a good online reputation boils down to showing customers you "listen and care."
"Nobody enjoys being told they aren't doing a fabulous job, but the reality is sometimes they aren't," Stoppelman says. "If it's legitimate, try and make a change. You can shoot the messenger, or you can do something about it."