A successful customer review system is invaluable. Websites like Yelp, Amazon, ZocDoc, Angi, Google, Tripadvisor, Facebook, Houzz, and so many more have a review element that other customers use. Great reviews often determine how a company will rank in search results – and whether they get referrals from various sites.
However, reviews are difficult to ask for – even when you know you’ve done great work for a client. It could be that there was a hitch during the project, or you know that an improved product will come out in a year or so. It’s possible that asking someone to tell you what they think about the company you’ve built from the ground up is just difficult. What if you find out that all the effort you’ve put into the business was in vain?
This article will cover how to systematize asking for customer reviews and getting referrals from beginning to end. It will also go over ways to change your mindset so that asking for that all-important review isn’t such a challenge.
Establish Your System for Obtaining Customer Reviews
When you built your business, it was likely to fill a niche or sell a unique product or service. Often, companies are built upon an entrepreneur’s passion. That passion does not usually include obtaining customer reviews.
But what if you did build a business around getting fantastic reviews from customers and getting repeat business and referrals? What would that look like? This is the question Adi Kaskavalciyan of gFour Marketing Group answered in her recent interview with Adi Klevit. Here is how she has built a process for obtaining customer reviews for every client transaction:
1. Commit to creating customers for life
This is the first step to changing the mindset of your entire business. There is no “love ’em and leave ’em” attitude. Instead, from the leadership down, the attitude is to embrace every customer and treat them as a guest in your home. That is, make sure they are cared for, have a great time, and want to come back.
This initial step is a high-level mindset shift that the leadership and team members must share – and needs to be imprinted in the company culture. If you don’t have this culture now, that’s fine. It’s something you can begin to incorporate as you build systems around obtaining customer reviews, referrals, and repeat customers.
2. Be referrable as a company
What does being “referrable” mean? Each industry has standards that must be met, but being referrable is delivering above and beyond. It is taking the entire customer experience and shifting it to ensure every interaction is exceptional. Here are a few ways you can build referrability into your business model:
Systematize every customer touchpoint.
This could be done by creating scripts for your receptionist, establishing policies about customer interaction with salespeople, and building systems that make every interaction valuable to the customer.
Do everything you can to set customers at ease.
In the interview, Adi K. shared that her construction clients often send a picture of the person who will do the work or determine the estimate to the customer. That way, the client knows who will be coming into their home.
Stay in touch and follow up throughout the transaction
This is particularly important if there is a delay between contract signing and product delivery.
Here’s an example of a business that did not stay in touch: recently, a friend had an experience with a car dealership where they bought a car with cash and signed a contract for the vehicle to be delivered within two weeks. They were told the car was sitting in a lot in another state. After a month of waiting and being put off with various stories, the dealership finally revealed that the car had yet to be built. The friend returned to the dealership, took back the check, and bought a car elsewhere.
That friend not only bought a different car, but they also went with an entirely different make of car. They chose the new make because their daughter had such a great experience buying that brand when she purchased her first new car, and they hoped customer service with the new company would be better. And guess what, it was!
The lesson here is that, even when your product is in such high demand that customers are on waitlists and pay higher prices for the product or service, you must provide clear, truthful communication from the beginning to the end of the transaction. Otherwise, they will take their business elsewhere, leave a terrible review, and potentially tell others not to do business with your company.
Provide the best experience possible every step of the way
In the above example, the new car brand had imprinted excellent service into its company culture. It’s a massive company with dealerships all over the world. However, they are so committed to giving customers great service that they do so, no matter which dealership serves the customer.
This is done by systematizing the service down to every interaction. Car construction, shipping, receiving, sales, marketing, follow-up service, buybacks, and resales are all fine-tuned to provide every customer with a great experience. This is what makes a person a lifetime buyer of a product or a lifetime client. This is what encourages others to refer business your way – even when other factors might make delivering the product or service more difficult.
3. Create a story your clients can tell others
Many marketers focus on “storytelling” in their marketing.
The real storytelling is the story the client will share about your business. Make that your focus.
Think about every step your client goes through with your business – every interaction. Think about how the customer will be treated from the first moment they connect with your company until the last time anyone from your business talks with them. This extends from the initial contact through any follow-up or additional touchpoints.
Now, build the systems in your company that will create the story you want your customer to tell.
4. Focus on reviews, repeat customers, and referrals
When your focus goes beyond getting a review from a customer, you can build systems that get you that initial review and create a referral partner for years to come.
Asking for a review takes two simple steps:
1. Check in with the customer.
2. Ask for the review.
That sounds simple – and it is! But some business owners can have trepidation because there are many “what ifs” that could happen. What if the client isn’t satisfied? What if something goes wrong later and they change their review? What if they seemed happy but are a mean person and write a terrible review?
This is where systematization and scripting come in handy.
So, here is a more extended version of the above steps:
1. Create a system for asking for reviews. This includes the scripted “check-in.” The check-in can include asking, “How was your experience with us?” or “I wanted to check in and make sure you had a five-star experience.”
Conditional: If the customer is unhappy, find out how to make it right and then do so. Additionally, make a note to update your systems if needed to ensure a similar situation doesn’t occur to another customer.
2. Once you have verified that the customer is completely satisfied, ask them if they can take a moment to send a review.
3. Provide the link to the site where you’d like the review.
4. Once the review is written, send them a “thank you” card or gift.
This process sounds simple because it is.
Now, if you are worried about implementing this process because you don’t want to hear something negative about your company, that is understandable. But remember that 71% of customers want to leave a good review when they’ve had a good experience. So, by not asking for a review, you are missing out on 71 good reviews out of every 100 customers who have had a great experience. And, by making the experience great or addressing any issues that caused a client to be unhappy, you’ve gotten your business that much closer to a flood of five-star reviews on Google, Yelp, Amazon, Facebook, Angi, GrubHub, or elsewhere.
5. Continue to engage past customers, even after they have purchased your product/service.
Systemizing outreach after the client has left a review is vital to getting referrals and repeat business. Many companies provide a great experience and even ask for a review – but then they never follow up, or they only follow up by sending advertising to a former client.
Instead of focusing on ads and what else you can sell a former client, focus on building a relationship. This means that you would:
- Send helpful newsletters with tips and fun facts instead of only emailing discounts every holiday.
- Mail them a note to celebrate the opening of a sister business.
- Invite them to attend a block party or local picnic.
- Send a holiday card wishing them a great day.
- Reach out once in a while to see if they need help.
- Connect with them on social media and interact with them there.
This outreach should be done in the spirit of authentic communication. While, of course, you should notify your loyal customers about discounts or remind them to make another appointment if needed, your interactions should not always be about money. Instead, all interactions should be in the spirit of developing a long-term relationship with that client.
All of the above can be systematized with policies and procedures to help your team reach their customer referral and repeat customer goals. If you want to put systems in place to get the maximum customer reviews and increase customer referrals, get in touch. We will work with you to build custom policies, processes, and procedures that work for your company and client base.