Just in time to close out out week on location-based services, ragan.com posted this handy article on how to best use Yelp!
While this article is useful for business-based companies, I wonder what we can take of it for public affairs? I mean, publicly accountable organizations like schools, recreation facilities and hospitals don’t really have customers: they have tax-payers who expect excellent service. All the time. And they should.
I have a few suggestions to add for those civil servants who are practicing PR when using Yelp!:
1. Always respond to reviews, especially those that are unfavourable. Don’t offer up specifics online but instead try to contact the person off-line, especially when the subject may be confidential. Make it your prerogative to resolve the issue quickly.
2. Recognize that web-based forums are just as important as someone phoning or writing a letter or taking the matter up in person with a staff representative. Maybe more so, as the internet has a particularly unstoppable reach. Word of mouth is powerful but…
3. Take advantage of good reviews (this echoes Kruse’s point #5). You want to be able to collect good reviews to share with staff and other stakeholders. It is never a bad thing to celebrate your good work. Thank reviewers for letting you know their experience with your organization was a good one. Try to share these good reviews via your other social media channels.
4. Use Yelp! to get reviewers engaged in other projects your team is working on, whether it is building a panel or advisory committee or looking for some volunteers. This could very well be a cost-effective way to draft community members rather than performing something like a civic lottery.
If anyone else has any ideas, I would love to hear them.