Online customer reviews are one of the biggest endorsements for your local business. Today, they have become a vital factor for the success and growth of any business overall, whether online or offline.
One of the best ways to get customer reviews on a regular and consistent basis is to create a review-dedicated culture in your business. A review-oriented business is one where soliciting reviews from customers becomes a priority of every single person on your staff.
A review-oriented culture is meaningless if your business is not built on one key foundational premise. First and foremost, you should be providing excellence and outstanding service. Your staff must be trained and educated to dazzle customers with superior service and exceptional experiences that will make customers willing to review your business online – and give glowing feedback. With this premise in place, you are ready to proceed with bringing your staff onboard to solicit customer reviews.
Define your mission: The first thing you need to do is meet with your staff and clearly communicate your mission; engaging with customers, delivering awesome service and soliciting feedback. Each and every employee must understand and work towards this goal. And remember – it works both ways. While your staff should be trained to solicit customers reviews, those reviews should also be seen as a measurement of the level of service your staff is providing.
Design a system for soliciting reviews. This consists of guidelines and best practices for soliciting reviews. Customize the system to your particular business and the service you offer. For instance, a system for a restaurant, clinic or hair salon where personal engagement takes place between staff and clients would be different than that of an online service. Layout your protocol in a bulleted list, followed by your strategy for rewards, incentives and disciplinary measures. Every member of your staff should receive a copy and if possible, meet with your staff to discuss and answer questions.
Guidelines and best practices your system should include
Timing is everything: Your employees should be able to gauge the right moment to ask for a review. Usually, the best timing is following a successful transaction. This could be after a meal at the restaurant where a simple, “Hope you enjoyed the meal” and the customer’s response can be a good indicator. It could be after a treatment at a spa or clinic or when the customer is settling the bill for a product – are getting great service, of course. Staff dealing with this part of the transaction should be trained to observe customer expressions and body language to decide if it appropriate to solicit feedback.
Needless to say, soliciting reviews at the inappropriate time will simply backfire. The best time s when the customer is feeling good after a great meal, a relaxing massage or getting a good deal and great service for a product they are buying. Decide what timing works best for your line of business and make sure staff is very clear on this.
When a customer is smiling and looking pleased, when they thank you or give a compliment, you can be sure that asking for a review will be positively received. Sometimes, customers will be forthright in complementing the service and in this case the reply could be, “That’s great to hear! We’d really appreciate if you could spread the word by giving us your feedback online.” It sounds simple but you’d be surprised at how many people get it wrong!
Deal with dissatisfaction. Timing is meaningless when you have a disgruntled customer who’s muttering under their breath; clearly, they are not happy about something. In this case, staff should be trained to probe politely to get to the bottom of the issue and resolve it on the spot if possible. This could be anything from summoning a supervisor or superior to speak to the customer or at the very least, carefully making a note of the customer’s complaint and getting their contact details to keep them updated.
Courtesy and sincerity: Your employees must ask customers for reviews courteously and more importantly, with sincerity, conveying to the customer that your business truly care about their satisfaction and values their feedback. If your business distributes flyers with links to your review sites, be sure they contain a polite call to action such as, “we value the feedback of each and every one of our customers”. Likewise, your links on emails, receipts, printed cards or on your website should convey a similar call to action.
Helpful tip: Role playing is a powerful method to train your staff. Hold mock interactions where employees rotate between playing the customer and the staff member asking for a review. Encourage your team to be as innovative as they want and to come up with as many scenarios as possible. Have other staff members offer suggestions on how the situation could have been handled better.
Make it easy for both employees and customers: Your staff should always ask customers for reviews whenever possible but making it easier for both parties will help ensure that those reviews do get posted. Always have a steady supply of printed material on hand for your employees to hand to customers after asking for a review. These should contain your review site links and a short call to action. These can be printed on your receipts or on separate flyers or even on napkins for food businesses. After your staff member solicits the review, they can simply hand the printed item to the customer.
For online businesses, make sure the “review or business” button is clearly visible and are working.
Preempt a bad review: Have a policy for addressing complaints on the spot before they become a bad online review. Put a system in place for logging email, in person or phone complaints immediately and professionally. Of course, using a system like ReviewerPro.com will help fend off the vast majority of potentially negative reviews.
Walk the Talk: Having a strategy in place means nothing if it’s not backed up by concrete rewards and disciplinary measures. This will drive home to your staff how serious you are about this and will keep them on their toes. Review generating is an ongoing process, which means you need to keep your team motivated. According to your type of business you can take the following steps:
Grade your staff regularly on the number of reviews. Recognize their efforts with rewards, bonuses and other incentives.
Have a budget for bonuses for staff members who get the most reviews, or bonuses for the whole staff for X number of reviews per month, for example. Employees who are lazy or ineffective in getting reviews and employees responsible for bad reviews should potentially be reprimanded.
It’s up to you to ensure that your business delivers over and above customer expectations. Next, establish a culture where staff works as a team to keep the reviews coming in. Most customers understand the importance of online reviews – in fact, they may have decided to patronize your business after reading your reviews. Their reviews will in turn attract more potential customers and so on. Capitalize on the great customer experience you offer by training your staff to be review-oriented and your business will soon be booming.
Want to automate and simplify this whole process? ReviewerPro.com is the answer. Reviews are too important to leave to chance!