NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Sticks and stones may break your bones but words typed online may actually break your business.
Thanks to online customer review websites anyone with internet access can create a profile and rate your business. That is not necessarily a bad thing says business owner Cassady Cooper, “It means you have to stay ahead of the game, you have to maintain really amazing customer service and so for small businesses it’s everything.” Cooper owns A Bicycle Named Desire, I.J. Reilly’s Knick Knacks and Curiosities in the Marigny.
So how do you know if a review is trustworthy?
On Yelp.com , there is a screening process in place to both the consumer and business owner’s benefit. Joi Brozek, Senior Community Manager of Yelp.com in New Orleans says it is very important that the site maintains rich content and that reviews are written organically, “People are going to read this and make their spending decision on this and I don’t think it should be taken lightly.”
There are over 39 million reviews on Yelp.com and 102 million unique visitors to the site every month. The community of online readers and reviewers is constantly growing and business owners are not only taking note, they are joining the conversation. Owners can claim their business page to add a biography, pictures and even publicly respond to comments. “When you have a bad review, you can directly E-mail those people,” says Cooper who has rarely ever dealt with the situation. He says in his experience online reviews have brought in business and helped spread positive feedback.
“In the past, if you had an experience that wasn’t satisfactory you would call the Better Business Bureau and hope for the best, now I feel that as a consumer you can make more informed choices,” says Brozek.