The element of surprise can really help to capture people’s attention and break through the cognitive clutter. That’s the case with advertising, where unusual approaches can help an ad to stand out in a very crowded landscape. It can also be the case with health coaching, because people who need to make behavior changes have grown used to hearing the same-old same-old from people trying to help. And, apparently, surprise can help a business earn a higher Yelp review.
Every year, Yelp publishes a list of the 100 top-rated restaurants in the United States. This list rarely coincides with what restaurant critics would select as their top 100, nor does it typically include the “hottest” places in terms of local buzz. Will Oremus in Slate notes that the top rated restaurant on the list is not so much amazing as it is surprising:
These are not the raves of diners bowled over by the most stupendously impressive meal of their lives. What Copper Top’s reviews share is a sense of pleasant surprise.
Of course, there are other statistical quirks that influence which restaurants make Yelp’s top 100, but it does seem a good way for a business to earn high user ratings is to defy expectations. The lesson can extend to individual performance in the workplace, too. As one of my mentors used to say, “Underpromise and overdeliver.” The surprise you create may enhance your reputation more than simply being good would.