SEATTLE - In this day and age, it's more important than ever for businesses to communicate with its customers. Unexpected Productions, an improv theater at Pike Place Market, is being recognized by Yelp for the way it manages its online reputation.
It is the only nonprofit and arts group selected nationally to go to the Coast-to-Coast conference in San Francisco in November.
"I work in a place where we make people laugh, even on my worst day it's better than most people's best," laughs Kent Whipple, marketing director for Unexpected Productions. He is often the man behind those Yelp responses to customers. "I have to remind myself, 'you spoiled little guy.'"
Yelp has also asked Whipple to be an advisor for the company to help other businesses. It's called the 21 member Advisor Alliance, which is a select group that will present and lead discussions at this year's conference. This group is made up of people who've had the most effective ways to use Yelp to grow their business.
It's a sign of the times because more businesses are being reviewed online and it keeps the marketplace competitive.
"We're getting reviewed everywhere--on Facebook, on Bing, on Trip Advisor," says Whipple. "It's scary to a lot of people and it really isn't. They're so afraid of the bad review. Well, the bad review will help you get better and you can listen to it. People aren't so much going to read the bad review, they're going to read how do you respond to it. So it's a great opportunity to tell your story and improve your online reputation. And that's what I love about it."
Whipple says he hired a second bartender after people complained about bar wait times. He also says he now thanks the audience and asks them what they can do better in a follow up email.
Whipple also takes advantage of Yelp's free calendar and uses storytelling to connect with his customers.
The Coast-to-Coast: Community Powered Progress summit will be held in San Francisco on November 15-16 with 100 top-rated Yelp businesses across North America. Intrigue Chocolate and Hello Robin Cookies Seattle have also been invited by Yelp.