Gain Inside Knowledge From Marketing Consultant Corinne Smith
Since we are in the midst of wedding season, I thought it would be a good time to share some thoughts about dealing with reviews.
Did you know that 90% of millennial brides will check your reviews online before they commit to doing business with you? The number one determining factor in choosing a vendor is a referral from someone within their personal circle. The second determinant is positive reviews online. Like it or not, Google, Yelp, Wedding Wire, The Knot are all a necessary part of the business. And now, reviews get written on social media channels too.
The reason you want great reviews is that it is a persuasive tool in acquiring new business. If you’re rocking your game, you’re going to encourage great customers to write reviews for you. Notice I said great?! A great customer or bride is someone you connect with, who is in your corner and already loves you. You had a great time working with them in the process and in the end they were happy. Those are your ambassadors now. Make it easy for them to write you a kind review by providing the links to the sites that are going to be most helpful to you. You could send them a friendly “checking in – hope you’re off to a wonderful honeymoon” email (yes, a lot of reviews get written on honeymoons… kind of sad right?!). In other words, keep the relationship and connection going – they will spread the good word for you. Brides have friends that are brides or will be brides soon. Again, direct referral – #1 determining factor in vendor hiring decisions.
So, this begs the question, why not make every bride an ambassador? THAT should be the goal of every business. Not all brides are going to connect easily with you, some will take more effort, but if you got a direct referral from every bride you worked with – how would that increase your business? It’s in the realm of real possibility. Do what it takes to connect and understand what your brides are looking for and to the best of your ability, personalize your approach with each bride – meet them where they’re at. Understand their priorities and make those priorities yours. It will pay off.
Your response to a positive review is critical. A response equals validation. Everyone, especially the millennial market, wants, or should we say NEEDS, to be validated. These are the kids that received participation trophies. No, REALLY!! If you don’t respond, it will leave them thinking they made the wrong decision. Do it, it’s like saying thank you for liking us and telling your friends. It’s good business practice.
Now, let’s talk about handling less than great reviews. You may know that the threshold of sharing bad news is very low. Inversely, the threshold of sharing good news is very high. That means that the motivation to write a bad review is very high. The motivation to write a good review is low. AND everyone is a critic. The way you handle a bad review is crucial and reflects even more on you then a great one. Here are some tips on responding to a less-than-awesome review.
1) VALIDATION. See above regarding the participation trophy. When people complain, their need is to be heard and understood. Acknowledgement is validation. It’s important to acknowledge their specific concern.
2) EMPATHIZE. Have you ever been disappointed? It sucks. Being disappointed on your wedding day intensifies the disappointment by 100. Emotions are heightened to astronomical levels the day of and expectations are high. It is the perfect storm if expectations are not met. “It must have been terribly disappointing for you to not have gotten exactly what you expected.” This statement does not have you accepting blame, it has you putting yourself in their shoes – you are now a soft shoulder. The perception is that you are on their side.
3) RESPONSIBILITY. If you did something wrong or didn’t live up to your end of the agreement, own it. Don’t blame others, don’t run and hide because it’s uncomfortable – come clean and be honest.
4) APOLOGIZE. Say the words. It matters more than you can imagine. Even if it wasn’t your responsibility, it mattered enough to them that they needed to let you know. Let them know you’re sorry that it didn’t go the way they wanted it to.
5) VALUE STATEMENT. Ding ding ding, opportunity to state how you do business.
6) IN THE FUTURE. This can be part of your value statement, or if you need to make amends in some way of value, ask that they reach out to you directly so you can handle it.
Not only will your customer feel you took their review to heart, they now know you care about what happened. How many times have you gotten a recommendation from a friend with a story about something that happened and the end of the referral being, “and they took care of it”? We all want to work with people that care about what they are doing and who they are doing it for. So even if things didn’t go perfectly, what does matter at the end of the day, is that your customer and your potential customer knows YOU CARE. Anyone reading your response to a complaint will get that message if you handle it professionally and with empathy.