Last week, we raised the issue of company-initiated conversations and how essential it is to have companies involved up front when it comes to customer feedback.

Since launching UserVoice last year (April 17th), we’ve intentionally aimed our service at appealing to business owners.  We feel that by empowering companies first, users will then have an active and listening ear from a company that is willing and ready to make changes based on their feedback.

Yesterday, Yelp further validated our belief that company involvement is vital, when they opened up their customer review site to business owners, giving them more control with responding to consumer reviews. NYT LinkAP Link

From the NY Times article:

“As the site matures, though, it has been doing more and more to appease small-business owners.”

Our experience has been that companies need and are actively looking for safe places to assist their brand.  If a site can empower & protect the company’s reputation, then it’s going to increase customer support and encourage sales.

With Yelp’s move toward small business and recent changes at GetSatisfaction, this begins to look like a trend, as tactics shift towards involving businesses.  In reality, they should have been doing this all along.  Companies need to feel secure when someone else is representing their brand.  If you’re building a website and having to cater to customers of these brands, remember to keep their interests first. The rest will follow.