It’s in the stars… How many do you have?
Would that last customer give you a 5-star rating? Or no stars at all? And why should you care?
What people are saying about your business matters. Here are three reasons why your customer reviews and star power rating matters:
- People pay attention to 5-star customer reviews. They make buying decisions based on what others are saying.
- They pay even more attention to bad customer reviews. And they make decisions NOT to buy based on bad reviews.
- When people Google your business, those ratings show up.
Here’s the nugget: You can control the quality and quantity of customer reviews you get. How? That’s the secret in the stars that we’re about to reveal.
Fast facts: What the statistics say about customer reviews
Reviews impact your local rankings on search engines such as Google and Bing. Review quantity, velocity, and diversity can increase your search engine visibility by as much as 13%. As a business owner, you don’t even need to have an “upgraded” Google listing in order to have your stars show up.
How do you get those stars? It’s all about words. People who sort through and analyze numbers for a living can spot those positive and negative words faster than your customers can spit them out. It only takes two or three words to tell which direction a review is headed:
- “Thirty-minute wait”
- “Love this place”
- “Rude waiters”
- “Out of everything”
- “We’ll be back”
And the stars are assigned accordingly.
Both positive and negative reviews are helpful to your customers. They want to know where to go, and also where not to go. Your job is to make sure you show up in the “where to go” list. Unfortunately, both positive and negative reviews are not based on what’s true about your business, but rather on the experience the review writer has with you. When you are going after reviews and reviewers, be sure you ask the right people and ask them the right questions.
If you get a negative review, don’t despair. We’ll tell you how to handle that in a moment. But don’t let your business miss out on getting more positive reviews just because you’re scared of bad ones. You’re likely to get way more positive reviews than negative ones if you follow our process, and trust that negative reviews aren’t the end of the world.
What do consumers want to know?
Specifically, they want you to deliver on your brand promise. If you say your pizza will make a true Italian’s mouth water, then it better be delivered hot and flavorful. If your bed and breakfast touts its luxurious linens and stunning views, then I’d better be able to curl up in that scrumptious bed and see the ocean from every window.
These things are obvious. But sometimes it’s the less obvious things that can trip you up. If one of your wait staff is having a lover’s quarrel, it’s the customer who will suffer. If someone’s reservation got mishandled, not even an apology will keep your stars intact. These interactions are called “touch points.” Look carefully at every instance where you and your people “touch” a customer. Make sure every touch is enough to make a kitten purr.
How to get tons of 5-star customer reviews
Once you have taken care of your brand promise and touch points, it’s time to start collecting those reviews. The fastest and easiest ways to get five-star reviews is to:
1. Target your lowest hanging fruit. This can be the clients you may know with personal relationships. If they’re willing to give you glowing reviews, get them! They’ll be fantastic.
2. Constantly follow up with clients. Cherrypick your favorite clients and those you know had great experiences working with you. Start with those who had recent experiences and work your way back.
The best way to do this is to contact them by phone. Most people say of course, but may take a reminder or two, so send an email or a text with convenient links after three days if they haven’t written and posted a review yet.
3. Get any new customers thinking about positive reviews right off the bat. Include links to your positive reviews on your business cards to get them excited; then, if you deliver a fantastic customer experience, you can ask and they’ll remember – in some cases, they’ll even take the initiative and write you a great review on their own. (Don’t forget to thank them in a public comment if they write you one!)
And don’t be afraid to ask in person. If you are physically present with your customer, ask them for a review on the spot. You may be surprised at how willing people are to write something nice when you ask them to.
4. Train your staff to ask. Make sure everyone on your entire team from top to bottom has a script on how and when they ask for reviews. Sometimes the key is to ask immediately after a transaction, sometimes the key is to wait a few days – as a business owner, you’ll know best. But no matter what point the customers get the ask, the most important thing is to provide links so they can easily click and review.
5. Automate reviews through review software. There are plenty of software providers out there that can connect to your website or social media profiles. These can make it easy for your customers to write reviews with direct links you can send them. Some will even allow you to filter out the bad reviews, which many businesses love…
It always translates back to revenue, so make sure you prioritize getting the most glowing reviews possible!
How to deal with a negative customer review if you get one
You will occasionally have unhappy customers. There’s a Grumpy Gus in every crowd, the guy who can find a cloud for every silver lining. And Grumpy Gus is vocal. He can’t wait to tell his story.
Regardless of whether or not Gus has a legitimate complaint, acknowledge his comments, apologize, and fix it. And do so in the most public way possible. Depending on the level of his upset, he may post in multiple locations, so be sure to check them all and respond to all.
Offer concessions as appropriate – free shipping, credit for returning merchandise (no questions asked), discounts on future purchases. Regardless of how Gus responds, prospective customers who are checking out your reviews will know that you have a customer service mentality. And that is all they need to know.
Your next steps
Before you do anything else, do these four things right now:
- Write down your brand promise, if it’s not already in writing.
- List your touch points with the customer.
- Write down three ways you can begin to collect reviews.
- Develop a short review format that can be used both in person and digitally.
Now, start asking.
And don’t just look at the stars. Get your own.
Guest Blogger: Rahul Alim works for Custom Creatives, a digital marketing firm in Los Angeles. Custom Creatives has been helping small businesses grow their business with high-impact digital marketing strategies, design and execution since 2004.