Yelp Reviews Can Save the Day AND Get You New Customers


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Life gets busy, and sometimes you just have to rely on the internet and user reviews. Sometimes it works out great, and sometimes not so much. This is an example of how online reviews led a customer to a new favorite restaurant.

My oldest daughter recently graduated high school. As one of three kids, life gets busy. Her graduation came up faster than I’d like, and there was much to do. Family members who planned to attend the ceremony grew quickly, and I realized I would need a reservation for a busy Friday night. Of course, I realize this on Thursday night.

I frantically called our family’s go to restaurant, and unfortunately they could not accommodate us until much later in the evening. Panicked, I turned to Yelp. I wanted a nice dinner for my daughter, and the restaurants I am familiar with in our area would either be too crowded or not quite what I envisioned for her graduation dinner.

I looked through reviews of restaurants in the area and came across one called Wheatstack. If you’re in the western suburbs of Chicago, I highly recommend it. They had mostly glowing reviews, some average, and some negative, but the vast majority seemed to like their experience. I was able to view pictures of the dining area, which was helpful in the decision making process. Luckily, they were able to accommodate us at the time we needed. So far, so good.

With anything new, I was a bit nervous. On top of it, the graduation ceremony ran a bit late, so we arrived 15-20 minutes after our reservation time. I was horrified and worried that they would not be able to seat us in a timely manner.

From the minute we stepped in the restaurant, I knew it was going to be good. The hostess was pleasant and reassuring, and said that they know things happen and it was no problem that we were late. The server was equally gracious and told me not to worry about being late.

The entire experience was fantastic. The best part of it all came at the end. When I apologized for being late on our arrival, I did mention we were at a graduation, but I thought nothing of it. When our meal was complete, the server presented my daughter with a cupcake and a card signed by all of the staff working that night. What a nice touch!

Lessons to take away from this experience?

  • Be aware of your online reviews: not just Yelp either. Be aware of your company’s online reputation. Either regularly review online content through a social media monitoring program or make sure the review sites are checked regularly. Address any negative reviews and make sure what’s being said is accurate.
  • When you have no reviews: it’s time to get some! Use Yelp and your own website as starting points. Encourage customers to leave reviews, good and bad. Encourage this on your social sites as well. Build a base of feedback so people who are using these sites as a starting point can see what you have to offer.
  • Include images where possible: being able to look at the dining area and menu items as posted by users was helpful in making a final decision. You can claim your business on Yelp, which allows you to add images, a link to your website, and other helpful information for potential customers. Once someone finds you, make it easy for them to get all of the information they need in one place. That will make all of the difference for panicked customers looking for something last minute.

This is an excellent case study of the importance of online reviews and how much customers can rely on them. Personally, I was exceptionally impressed with this experience and our family will be visiting this restaurant again. Of course I’ve shared the experience with my friends and family, and I’m sure the family members who were there will be telling others too. This is how visibility and word of mouth happen – it can all start from an online review site and grow from there.

Marianne Hynd
Marianne Hynd is the Vice President of Operations at Ann Michaels & Associates, a customer experience measurement firm. The company specializes in mystery shopping, customer feedback, and interactive engagement kiosk programs.


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