5 Steps to Turn Your Worst Critic into a Raving Evangelist: How The Ethical Firm Responds to Employees


This is a fictional response to the open letter to the CEO of Yelp, Jeremy Stoppelman, by Talia Jane about the poor working conditions at Yelp’s Eat24 Customer Service division. She was fired hours after she posted her letter.  Subsequently, there has been much discussion on the interweb – all of which either supports or berates Talia, and all of which entirely miss the point.  I believe that this is how the company should have responded (instead Jeremy berated the high cost of living in SF and tweeted that they were going to move their customer service center to AZ)

Dear Talia –

Firstly, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to write to me to point out ways in which Yelp could be doing a better job of looking after its employees. It seems evident that some of the policies we have put in place do not seem to be working as intended.

I would like to address the main issues in your letter one by one:

  1. One Year Service in Customer Support and Retention Rates: we pride ourselves on being a customer-focused organization, and the intention of this policy is to groom our future leaders to understand those values. However, given your feedback it seems that we could be doing a better job of this. I have asked management to put a plan on my desk addressing our retention and promotion policies.  This will take time to fix, so please be patient.
  2. Food and Snacks: not providing snacks over the weekend is clearly an oversight as we value the weekend shifts extremely highly. Going forward, we have rectified that immediately. However, these snacks are supposed to be just that – pick-me-ups and a reward for doing what is often a thankless task. That the customer service teams are using these as meal substitutions was not the intention, and quite frankly I am deeply shocked. Just as an army marches on its stomach, so does a team – and a happy customer service team is a happy customer. I have therefore asked the Eat24 managers to layout a plan to provide meals to our shift staff – we are, after all, a food delivery service, and our staff should be well fed!
  3. Healthcare: there is obviously little point in the company paying for a healthcare plan that our employees can’t afford. If it takes three hours of work just to earn the co-pay, we will end up with sicker staff because they won’t go to the doctor when they need to. With immediate effect all employees earning less than $20 per hour may claim the co-pay as an expense, and next year will be offered health-plans with no co-pay.
  4. Training Program: I have asked management to review our on-boarding and training program, as it appears to have failed you in this instance. They will be reaching out to you to get further comments and insight on this matter.
  5. Phone Bills and Commuting: I have asked your managers to put a plan on my desk to allow customer service staff to telecommute. That plan would include coverage of high-speed internet and company computers and headsets, of course. As you rightly point out, this will save the employee both the expense and time of the daily commute, and this can only be a benefit to Eat24.

Non of these changes are particularly expensive to the organization, but each one will make a huge difference to the situation you describe.  Once again, I must thank you for bringing these matters to my attention. I could make an excuse that no company is perfect, but excuses aren’t going to make us better. Only the hard work and honest feedback from employees on the ground, who are living this day in and day out, can do that.

Please do not hesitate to continue to discuss these matters with your managers and the rest of my leadership team, and I look forward to hearing from you if you forgive us, and decide to continue your career at Yelp.


Jeremy Stoppelman

Paul Osborn

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