Last week I wrote about how to take control your online reputation. The week before we looked at the importance of online customer reviews. In the final part of a three-part series on managing online customer reviews, we look into how to earn more positive reviews.
Encouraging Positive Reviews
If you’ve bought a new car in the recent past, you may have noticed that retail car dealers take online ratings on sites such as dealerrater.com and cars.com very seriously. In fact, they’re rather shameless about pushing for a positive review. While this high-pressure approach isn’t a good fit for the limo industry, there is still plenty that can be done to encourage clients to post about their positive experiences. Additionally, the more positive reviews you can bank, the less impact the off review will have on your overall rating.
Crispin Bottomley, office manager and community liaison for Niagara Classic Transport, closely monitors his company’s online customer reviews. If you take a look at their TripAdvisor page, you’ll see a five-star rating with 49 reviews. As in other matters of social media, Niagara is quite savvy about collecting positive reviews. They ask that chauffeurs mention their social media presence and encourage them to post photos of wine outings or weddings on their social media pages. Chauffeurs also can drop hints about online reviews if they sense things are going well and the client is happy.
Additionally, Crispin said that during follow-up conversations, if they get the sense the client had a good experience, they ask them to “please share with others.” In the future, Niagara is considering including links to online review sites in the final payment receipt, Crispin said.
Now that they’ve collected a cache of positive reviews, Niagara is able to use them to their advantage, referring potential clients to their Trip Advisor page in conversation, linking to it through their Facebook page, and sending out new reviews through Twitter.
In last week’s post on the topic, I mentioned an operator who faced some online backlash from an unhappy client and handled the situation perfectly. That operator was Michael Campbell, president and CEO, of Grace Limousine of Manchester, NH, and since then, they’ve started to take online reviews more seriously. “In the aftermath of the Yelp issue, we’ve begun proactively encourage happy brides to post their reviews to the main bridal sites: WeddingWire.com and WeddingChannel.com,” Campbell said. “If there is a bad review — and if you look, you’ll see that we still have some — I just write a sensible response to the situation.”
The experience was a learning one, Campbell said: “The most important thing I’ve learned with social media and other online sources being such a major factor in how clients learn about a business’s character, is simple: Let the client win. If they call and say they had a bad experience, ask them how you can make it right, and just make it right.
“At no point in history was it ever good for a company to ignore a client’s concerns — valid or not. But now more than ever, it is completely pointless for me as a business owner to shun negative feedback, blame poor service or negative interactions on “policy,” or hold winning an argument above winning in the court of long-term public opinion. To do so would be completely backward. So I let customers win, even if it hurts a little bit now, because I assure you: Getting beat up all over the Internet hurts more.”
Cripsin of Niagara had similar advice: “For people getting into receiving reviews, don’t be afraid of negative reviews. You can always refer to the positive reviews. I think readers that are willing to read reviews, take [the bad ones] with a grain of salt.”
— Denis Wilson, LCT East Coast Editor
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