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August 1st, 2016

Harnessing Yelp: Where to Start. When to Stop.

By Taryn Offenbacher, Communications Specialist

Online reviews are powerful. Customers spend significant time writing them. Potential customers spend significant time reading them.

Why don’t more companies spend significant time responding to them?

This was the premise of Jay Baer’s book “Hug Your Haters.” In his book, Jay explains:

“Your business improves in four ways when you hug your haters: you turn bad news good; you create customer advocacy; you gather insights and intelligence; and you differentiate from your competition.”

So, with this goal in mind and book in hand, we were ready to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly on Yelp.

The first question is where to begin? Mayo Clinic has over 200 reviews spread across over 144 profiles on Yelp.

Suggestion 1: Start small.

While Mayo Clinic has 144 profile pages on Yelp, we only have four major medical center locations (Rochester, MN; Jacksonville, FL; Scottsdale, AZ; and Phoenix, AZ). Rather than trying to inventory all 144 pages, we picked our primary four locations to analyze. (Note: A Yelp account representative was able to send an inventory of all of our Yelp pages so it would have been unnecessary work.) We found 209 of the 260 reviews were contained on those four pages alone.

Suggestion 2: Get organized.

We developed a spreadsheet to help us analyze the information. The spreadsheet tracked the rating score, user name, and date of review. We identified key topics mentioned in the reviews and created a tally system to track how many times factors like doctors, billing, scheduling, environment and atmosphere were mentioned both positively and negatively in the reviews. Once we had an organized database, the data input was straightforward and consistent.

Suggestion 3: Don’t take it personally. Do take it seriously.

Our data indicated that two locations had relatively low volume of complaints. Generally, reviewers were very happy with their service. Two other locations saw consistently negative reviews. While we want to believe we are doing everything we can, every day, for every patient, the reality is, some patients are disappointed in their experience, and it is our job to take their feedback and identify ways to improve. All Mayo Clinic reviews are sent to the Patient Experience team to review and address.

Suggestion 4: Consider an enhanced profile.

Yelp offers a variety of paid account options. While the price will likely vary based on each organization, the options available include:

  1. Enhanced profiles: removal of competitor ads, call to action features, image control and more
    1. Self-serve: You are responsible for account maintenance
    2. Full-serve: Yelp assigns a dedicated account manager to help manage information and analytics across all locations
  2. Cost Per Click advertising: Advertising on competitor pages and Yelp search results

Suggestion 5: If you want customers to find you, update your location information on Yelp.


Did you know Apple, Yahoo, Bing, Amazon, Microsoft and Samsung source local data from Yelp? That’s right. When you use Apple maps to navigate to the nearest coffee shop, the address for the coffee shop is sourced from the Yelp database. If nothing else, make sure your hours of operation, address, phone number and website are correct on Yelp.

We hope you found this venture into Yelp management helpful! There are a variety of options and solutions for each company. Don’t be afraid to dive in!

Taryn Offenbacher, Communications Specialist, joined Mayo Clinic in 2016 as a member of the Social and Digital Innovation team at our Arizona campus.

Tags: Jay Baer, Patient Experience, Platforms, Software, & Tools, Reviews, Yelp

Liked by Reed Smith, MakalaArce, grubell, Nicki Alley


Posted by @audreylaine, Aug 2, 2016

Great job, @toffenbacher!

Liked by Ben Forstie

Sue Anne Cassidy

Posts: 19
Joined: Jun 29, 2016
Posted by @sueannecassidy, Aug 3, 2016

Helpful; thanks, @toffenbacher! Question: out of an abundance of caution, leadership where I work is reluctant to have someone respond to reviews on Yelp because (as you know) doing so requires the name and photo of the responder to appear. Have you ever had a reviewer you’ve engaged with on Yelp try to track you down offline or act inappropriately?

Posted by @toffenbacher, Aug 3, 2016

Hi Sue Anne. Thanks for the reply. Yelp displays my first name, last initial and photo. I have never been contacted, tracked down or experienced inappropriate behavior by our Yelp reviewers. We discussed this prior to responding and determined that responding to Yelp reviews is a digital extension of in-person customer service. If I felt like a particular reviewer could be dangerous or threatening, I would not reply personally. Hopefully, my responses help mitigate angry customers and instead inspire customer advocacy.

Sue Anne Cassidy

Posts: 19
Joined: Jun 29, 2016
Posted by @sueannecassidy, Aug 4, 2016

Thanks, Taryn!

Dena Brannen

Posts: 19
Joined: Sep 10, 2015
Posted by @denabrannen, Aug 3, 2016

This was a great summary! We are in the process of signing an agreement with Yelp. I have a similar question to Sue Anne…what image(s) do you use when responding via Yelp. We are currently trying to make that decision as a system.

Posted by @toffenbacher, Aug 3, 2016

Hi Dena, we use the personal photo of the individual responding to reviews. Yelp recommends not using a logo or other corporate image. I hope this is helpful!

Dena Brannen

Posts: 19
Joined: Sep 10, 2015
Posted by @denabrannen, Aug 4, 2016

This is very helpful, thank you!

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