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Socially Savvy: A Public Thanks

Heather McNeil - June 30th, 2014

Dear Heather,
I am happy to say that we have a very high rating on Yelp. I never know if we should respond publicly to the good reviews or just send a private message as Yelp suggests. Your thoughts?

Comment: Just randomly checked out [the restaurant] tonight and we are SO glad we did. Fantastic service was the icing on the cake. It was a burger kind of day, so we all 3 ordered the one burger on their menu (a little risky, since their specialty is hot dogs), and we were THRILLED with what we got. The chili cheese fries were incredible, sweet potato fries and sauce delectable, and the seasoned fries refreshingly crispy and tasty. Totally worth your time and money. We’ll return as often as we’re in Colorado!
Jen C., 5 stars

Response: Hi Jen,
That is music to our ears! We hesitated putting the burger on the menu, but hotdogs and hamburgers just go together, don’t you think? The result has been overwhelmingly positive and we have guests that return specifically for that burger. Hamilton Meats and Provisions custom blends this fresh meat just for us using ground chuck, ground sirloin and brisket. We top it off with American cheese, our secret spread and a perfectly toasted brioche bun. While we are firm believers in “doing one thing well” having options is our way of saying, “It’s your meal, you decide.” One other little secret: all our hotdog toppings are available on our burger. (I think we might be onto something.:))
Thank you so much for visiting us and for taking the time to share your thoughts with others. We are so very appreciative.

Restaurant Owner

This person chose this restaurant above all others. She came, paid for her meal, and then took the time to write a review and tell complete strangers about her experience. Please also note, she wrote a review, so I guarantee you, she also told her friends about her meal. Does she deserve a thank you? Of course she does! If you were the person who wrote this review, wouldn’t you be happy you did? I read recently that most people do not experience appreciation and acknowledgement on a daily basis. This guest would have returned, based on their original visit, but I can assure you now they will be your brand ambassador.

In addition, this kind of response has added tremendous value to the readers. To describe what makes the burger so good, to explain why it’s on the menu, and to give additional “insider tips” is to give readers a reason to visit. This is a tremendous marketing opportunity that literally costs you nothing and most of your competitors are not using. Lastly, the majority of people who read these reviews/responses on a mobile device convert within an hour! If you were the reader, where would you go?

Heather McNeil is an online reputation manager and the author of Exceeding Expectations: How Yelp! Can Help. A 25 year veteran of the restaurant business, Heather McNeil consults business owners on best practices when responding to online reviews. She has a new webinar series, “How Yelp! Can Help: Increasing Revenues through Engagement and Recovery.” For more information, visit