Saturday, July 3, 2010

Yelp -vs- Help

Because of my most recent job, I have had the opportunity to meticulously read and critique each Yelp post for Fleur de Lys Patisserie. Since it's opening in November, we've had a number of reviews, giving us a total average of 3.5 stars. Not a bad rating from what I hear.

Check it out.

I use Yelp all the time. If I'm hungry in a new neighborhood, I type in my location on my iPhone to see if there are any interesting coffee shops or restaurants worthy of my time. I'm steered correctly 90% of the time. It's a fine resource to discover general information about the quality of the food, employee service, and customer favorites, and the 'thumbs-down' items.

It gives us all a chance to try and distinguish our Latinate grammar structures from one another in the distant hope of a print/paid position as a food critic. The first immediate benefit is marginal Internet fame, like having 1,000 friends on Facebook, or being the girl that wrote the really, really, audaciously nasty review. The second is feeling like your opinion is effective, and that it encourages or discourages future patrons on how to spend their hard earned.

As one who takes into account the comments and accusations made by the poorer reviews, I have difficulty in wholly accepting them as good, constructive judgment of the business. Some comments are irrelevant, i.e., 'there is little to no parking', or 'it's a very noisy street'. That is location-based, and to each establishment its own. Others are irrelevant because their information is incorrect, i.e. writing about an ingredient that is not in a particular dish, or about an item we don't even sell.

What I dislike is that Yelp reviews are sometimes a coward's way out. You can complain all you want, twisting the actuality of your experience into a hyperbole of what it was. I'm more in favor of constructive criticism as a worker at a new business. How are we going to know what you want if you don't let us know when we've done something wrong? If you think your latte isn't hot enough, let me heat it up for you.

To any and all Yelpers out there, the next time you have a complaint that you believe can be corrected, bring it face to face with a person. It takes a little courage to do, (and believe me it takes a little bit to receive), but in the end everyone will be more satisfied.

In the immortal words of Jerry Maguire, "Help me help you!"