What ratings do people trust? Where do consumers go when it’s time to review a local business? As more and more consumers become socially savvy, more and more of them will consult services like Yelp versus the Better Business Bureau.
Of course, this is not a knock on the BBB, but things have been going this way for a while now. As people, we tend to trust our peers more than organizations. We read product reviews written by consumers just like us and place more value on those ratings than those provided by organizations and publications. This shift in trust applies to businesses now as well. With that said, let’s look at the difference between a rating on the BBB and one on Yelp. We’ll use a favorite restaurant of mine, Phil Sandoval’s Mexican Restaurante.
The Better Business Bureau
A quick search of the BBB for “Phil Sandoval’s Mexican Restaurante” will provide a rundown of this business. You can check it out for yourself here. But how much can we learn from that rundown? Immediately, we see that the BBB gives Phil’s a rating of B+. As we scroll down, we learn that Phil’s is not an accredited BBB business. Fair enough, but not exactly relevant. Now for some valuable information – the reason for the rating. The BBB states the reason for Phil’s B+ rating is “Length of time business has been operating.” From this page, you can also gather information for the restaurant such as the address, phone number, type of business and services offered, as well as the assurance that there have been zero complaints in the past 36 months. While this information may be somewhat useful, it’s fairly vague for a consumer.
Now let’s see what we can find out about Phil Sandoval’s Mexican Restaurante on Yelp. Similar to the BBB’s rating, the first thing you may notice on Yelp is the rating. Phil’s rating is 3.5 stars out of 5. However, you also notice that there are currently 10 reviews. Back to those in a moment. A quick skim through on yelp will give you a wealth of information about a business including its category, price range, and accommodations. Users might even have uploaded photos of the business. But the most important thing about Yelp, is of course, the ratings. Yelp ratings are one through five stars and may be accompanied by a full, written review.
A funny thing about ratings and reviews or complaints and compliments, is that sometimes people are quick to complain, but not as eager to compliment. For the most part, Yelp seems to be balanced. I think that comes from the community of reviewers on Yelp. They enjoy writing reviews as well as being social and Yelp provides an enjoyable platform for both. It’s not just a site for reviews, it’s an experience. You can add friends, compliment them, check in (like foursquare and facebook places), become the duke of different venues, and so on. It’s not an organization. It’s a community of people who trust each other and value their peer’s input. Notice when I mentioned photos, that I said Users may have uploaded them. Yelp revolves around consumers, but you have a chance to engage them.
What it Means to Your Business?
It means that reviews and business ratings are now in the hands of consumers more than ever. A customer has no need to contact the BBB when they can get online and effect your brand directly through places like Yelp. It means that you better be out there, engaging consumers, and influencing what they say about your business. They will say something and it well be read. Take this as an opportunity. Harness it and explore the opportunities to influence your reputation on Yelp – from a social media perspective as well as in-store – online and off.
I’ve got more on Yelp coming soon. But for now, have you explored the possibilities? Have you written reviews from a consumer point-of-view or embraced the Yelp community in any form? Have you added your business on Yelp? How about check-ins? I find myself wanting to check-in on two apps now – Foursquare and Yelp.
What do you think about the BBB? Is it important? Now that services like Yelp provide peer reviews that consumers trust, does a BBB accreditation or rating mean as much anymore?
Let us know your thoughts.