Whenever I am searching for a new place to eat, I always turn to Yelp. I prefer Yelp over sites like CitySearch, Zagat's, etc. because it resonates with me. I'm not interested in what a food critic thinks because we have different values.
Yelp has a lot of applications that transfer over well to business (as well as the ability to rate businesses).
Real customer feedback. How can you get better if you don't know what's wrong? Feedback can uncover blind spots. Your customers determine whether you thrive or shut down. Listen to what is being said, even if you don't agree. Serve your customers well and they will repay you with loyalty.
The ability to respond to negative feedback. It's great to receive compliments, but your response (or lack there of) to complaints can make or break you. I've left a negative comment on Yelp about a restaurant before and on a few occasions the owner has gotten back to me. I may have had a bad experience, but the owners willingness to make things better made me want to give them a second chance. In my experience it's not about perfection. Sometimes initial skeptics can become your biggest fans.
Brand awareness. It's not what you think, but what your customers think your brand is that's important. That means when sifting through customer comments, look for patterns. If you're focusing on a particular aspect of your business, see if it is reflected in the feedback. We can be deliberate about strategy, but we only know if it works based on customer sales. Make your biggest fans your marketing department. Even with technology, word of mouth referrals are king.
Customer feedback shouldn't be taken lightly. How you respond influences the customer experience. Yelp is a great example of the power of reviews. Listen to your customers. They are giving you the answers to your problems...