Should I even have to explain?
Collecting reviews and testimonials from your customers may potentially be the most important thing you can do for your business.
If you have to stop and question whether or not you have a system in place to gather reviews and/or testimonials, this is a critical article for you to read. This simple act does so much good for your business, and it’s one of those things that when you set up the right way, it will almost run on auto-pilot for you … as long as you are paying attention.
Do not set up your customer review platforms without being prepared to make responding to new feedback a daily activity. I saw a few eye-rolls out there – “My schedule is already overwhelming. I can’t make time to do this on a daily basis.” Let me reiterate so it sinks in: Collecting reviews and testimonials from your customers may potentially be the most important thing you can do for your business.
The benefits are clear. For starters, word of mouth advertising is a real thing. In some industries like a local service business, happy customers can be your biggest referral source. I work with a mechanic that currently books two weeks out without spending a dime on advertising. The owner has his review system tuned up to give his customers every opportunity to go in and leave their feedback. And with all that loyal business, he is confident that a future expansion will be successful.
I come from the school of thought that if you take care of your customers, they will take care of you. Customer satisfaction should be your #1 priority. Getting direct feedback from recent customers who care enough to engage with you by spending the time to leave a review is a prime opportunity to exhibit how much you value your customers in a public forum. Here are a few of my best practice tips:
Respond to every comment that you can. On Facebook, customers can rank you from 1 to 5 stars. They can also leave a comment as to why they ranked you where they did. When they invest their time to provide you with direct insight, many times with their name alongside their comment, you have been given a wonderful opportunity to engage with this individual.
At this point, they are no longer a dollar figure or number, they are a real person. Treat them as such. Thank them for leaving the review with enthusiasm. Keep the interaction a positive one on your end and make it clear that you would love to see them return again in the future. If you’re getting more incoming reviews than you can handle, train one of your star employees to help you respond to them.
What about the negative reviews? Mama was right when she said to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Consider what all has transpired to compel someone to reach out and inform you that their experience wasn’t up to your standards of excellence.
- Something unusual has happened. If I’m a business owner, I want to know when these out of the ordinary incidents occur.
- Most likely, their issue has not been addressed by you or your staff; and if it has, it may not have been handled in the optimal manner. This is your shot at redemption!
- Keep in mind, your current and future customers will be reading your responses. Swallow your pride, exhibit genuine concern and empathy for the reviewer; if you cannot offer a public resolution to them, at the very least provide an opportunity for a personal 1-on-1 interaction to chat with YOU or a staff member that you appoint by name to resolve their complaint. I recommend a phone call in most cases but email is not necessarily a bad thing. Record the call when it is allowed and save the email to cover your own interests.
- Be honest; if you screw up, apologize. If they were right and you were wrong, let them win. It doesn’t make you weak. You are acknowledging ownership of the situation and showing that you are accountable. In these rare instances, make special accommodations to take care of the customer without regard to your typical policies.
- If you don’t have any haters out there, then you’re not working hard enough. I know this sounds foolish, but there are internet ‘trolls’ who want nothing more than to see a REALLY fantastic business like yours fail. Whether it’s jealousy or some other irrational cause behind their behavior, embrace the hate and rise above. It means you’re doing something right! In these instances, after you’ve given your honest attempt at replying professionally, you have every right to ignore an irrational reaction. The other 99% of the reviews will speak the truth for you.
If you find yourself without a mechanism to capture customer reviews, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Get a link to your business’s Facebook page and point your customers there to leave a review. Even if you don’t have a website or other online presence, I highly encourage you to set up a Facebook profile for your business for the sole capability to collect customer reviews. If you don’t know how to do this, pick up the phone and I will help you set it up free of charge. Now you have no excuse!
You can include links on receipts or invoices inviting customers back to your website to leave you feedback on their recent visit. (*Sneak in a special offer on a confirmation page as a thank you for dropping by!) Try adding a review link in your email signature or your staffs’ email signatures. Be sure whatever methods you choose to implement are mobile-friendly and simple.
Collect testimonials and endorsements.
Whenever you get a fanatical review, reward these customers with an extra level of personal interaction. Send them a coupon. Make it a point they receive special acknowledgement the next time they stop in. Send them a hand-written thank you. Whatever you do, do something.
These super-customers can turn into brand ambassadors and will tell everyone how great your business is every chance they get. Don’t be afraid to ask these fans for a more in-depth testimonial.
Ask them if it’s OK to use their name, photo, and their permission to use their comments on your marketing material. Building instant credibility with your audience is simple when you have these testimonials next to the services that you offer. If your business is online, feature them on your website. If you have direct interaction with customers, print out the strongest testimonials and feature them prominently in your place of business.
You can also utilize Linkedin to get some quality endorsements for you and your business. The platform is designed around this type of interaction. If you do receive an endorsement from someone, make sure to reciprocate.
There are secrets to attracting customers and building your reputation, but reviews and testimonials are not one of those secrets. Set yourself apart from your competition by making customer reviews a key component to your marketing and customer relations efforts.