For most service businesses today – restaurants, hotels, professional services – online reviews are more important than ever. In fact, I think that online reviews are the lifeblood of your business. Online reviews are important for product sales, also. However, this article will focus on service businesses, not products.
If you have a lot of good ones, your business is likely pretty healthy. If you don’t, I’m betting your business is feeling a lot of pain – the kind of pain that lack of new customers brings. Ouch!
Personally, I use online review sites frequently to make decisions. On a recent “around the world” trip, I used them to select hotels and restaurants. The difference between having an “excellent” versus and “outstanding” review on TripAdvisor was often the tiebreaker in my decisions.
And, as I have only lived in my current home city of Orlando for a few years, I still need to find new service professionals – doctors, attorneys, dentists, and such. I have found the online reviews to be most helpful.
Do you really know the process that a new customer goes through to get to you these days? Even the strongest referrals are often accompanied by an extensive Google search. For many businesses, the online review sites – HealthGrades, DocZoc, TripAdvisor, Yelp – show prominently in the search results – sometimes even before the actual business website.
If your business has several bad reviews, it is likely to be passed over for another business that doesn’t have bad reviews – or, that has several good reviews to counter the bad ones. Most people will overlook a few bad reviews if there are a lot of good ones to counter the complaints.
In fact, a recent article posted in the Harvard Business Review asserts: “many companies need to dramatically shift their marketing strategies to account for the rising power exerted on future customers by the opinions of existing customers.”
Over the years, my agency has helped clients with digital marketing, website development, social media marketing, SEO, and other forms of marketing. I believe that online reviews are the most important factor in a buyer’s decision making process today.
So, how do you get more great reviews and fewer bad ones? Now, THAT is the million dollar question.
Here are some proactive strategies that are working well today.
1. Make it easy for customers to complain by putting comment cards inside your establishment. Include a drop box where the cards can be dropped. And, turn it into a post card with prepaid postage so that it can be mailed. Adding the opportunity for anonymity makes it safe for a customer to voice concerns.
2. Put a “How are we doing?” input area on your website where people can submit anonymous comments. Don’t require an email or name, make it optional. Some people just like to vent. Better for them to do it on your site than a public review site or social media.
3. Collect emails so that you can send email followup messages requesting feedback. If you have a restaurant, put a “signup for goodies” card on the table or in the check holder. If you have a store, place a signup list at the checkout area or place a card inside their bags. Another great way to get emails and feedback is to post a link for a survey on the cash register. Businesses can increase participation by entering respondents names into a drawing for something valuable.
4. Collect phone numbers so that you can call people for feedback and encourage people with good feedback to please post on review sites.
5. Based on the feedback, follow up appropriately. If the feedback was good, provide links that would make it easy for them to share their comments with review sites. If the feedback was not good, provide a way for them to share more via an online form or a phone call.
People want to be heard. The more that you can provide them a way to share their frustrations and remedy the problems, the less likely they are to slam you on review sites.
Even if things went very wrong, how the problem is handled can make all the difference. In fact, customers who complain can become very loyal customers – if the problem is handled well.
Getting good reviews can be expensive in terms of the amount of labor and effort required. Some aspects of getting reviews can be automated so that it minimizes staff effort.
If you’d like to know more about how to get more good reviews and fewer bad reviews, visit www.GetMoreGreatReviews.com to view a quick video.
Gina Carr works with business leaders who want to get more great reviews and fewer bad ones. She has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and an engineering degree from Georgia Tech. Gina enjoys traveling the globe to share the latest business growth strategies with business owners and managers. She can be reached at email@example.com or 1-678-653-0115. Schedule a free strategy session today to learn easy ways for you to get more great reviews … and, more great customers! ww.ginacarr.com/strategy-session
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