Reviews Reap Revenue

 “You’re a real renaissance man.” Hear that and you’ve gotten a great compliment. Because when someone refers to you as a polymath, you’re a master of many talents.
When that term was first coined, it meant you were good at languages, music, and poetry. Today, the term might be better suited to include the talents we hold in high esteem.
For example, in the tourism industry, you really have to be good at many things to find success.
I see this all the time.
A small business owner who serves our city’s guests masters human resources, product development, customer service, finances, and marketing – a true renaissance man or woman of today.
It’s the last one on that list—marketing—that many tourism businesses do well. The proof is in the visitors who come back again and again.
However, there’s a marketing tool that gets underestimated time and time again—the online review.
Websites like Trip Advisor and Yelp promenade reviews from guests who have experienced a product first hand. Other guests read those reviews and base their decisions on what to do, when, and where.
If you manage these reviews well, it’s free, international marketing. It’s an opportunity to showcase your business, your product, and your staff.
We spend tons of money on advertisement, and we pay very close attention to what message we are sending and the return of investment on that message.
With online reviews, the cost to advertise is free and the message goes two ways. You can actually have a dialogue with your customer and better serve their needs.
And the rate at which people are making their decisions based on online reviews is skyrocketing.
Even my doctor has an online review process where he asked me to make a comment.
Managing these reviews means checking them often, responding to them, and potentially changing the behavior reported in the reviews.
All too often, I see bad reviews handled poorly. That’s why I share three tips on how to turn a bad experience into a good opportunity.
First, don’t shy away from bad reviews.
When someone complains in a public way that you’re product didn’t live up to expectation, these comments shouldn’t be ignored. If you do, they can fester and send people away.
Address the bad review head on with a kind comment under the complaint. Start by apologizing for the unfortunate issues they encountered at your place of business. Whether you agree with the comment or not, this is not the forum to debate.
Second, use a negative review as an opportunity.
Try to see the complaint from their point of view. Think of how you would want the situation rectified if you were in their shoes. Offer a solution to whatever problem was presented.
Future, potential customers will be looking at these reviews to decide whether or not they will buy your product. So, offer a solution that shows you care about the customers’ experience. Be warned, though, not to offer a solution that would encourage bad reviews.
For example, if someone says, “I will never go there again; there was a hair in my salad.” Don’t offer a free meal in the comment section because it may encourage others to post something negative in order to get a free meal. Instead, use your actual name and post something like this:
“I’m very sorry that you had difficulties on your last trip to our restaurant. It’s our aim to provide you with the best service, freshest ingredients, and most creative dishes day after day. On this day, we didn’t deliver. I’d like to personally invite you back. Give us another chance to wow you with our attention to detail.”
Even if that customer never comes back, the people reading the review later will see your attempt to rectify the situation. That will speak volumes about how you handle the customer, and it serves as an opportunity to talk about the creative dishes that you’re serving.
Finally, don’t take bad reviews personally.
 It’s easy to see a comment, rationalize it, protect yourself and your staff and brush off the comment as that customer was having a bad day. You may even remember that person and easily shrug it off as he doesn’t know what he was talking about.
However, it doesn’t make the comment any less true. And for all of the other people who will be reading that review, it’s the gospel truth.
Instead, look internally at what was the breakdown. Is there a team member that needs a little extra training on handling problems? Does the kitchen staff need to wear hair nets? Is there something defective with your product?
If you see a complaint over and over, you definitely have a problem—even if it’s just a perception of a problem from your customers’ point of view. Explore that and fix it so that it doesn’t become the thing for which you are known.
Once you find better ways to serve your customers, then the positive comments will flow. And, let me tell you, the positive comments are worth a lot.
When I worked at a local hotel, I had dozens of people come in to stay with us based on one glowing, positive review that was posted years earlier.
We’re still in the beginning of the year when all of us are making vows to do life and business better. So, pledge to be a renaissance man or woman in your business and take up the online review. With the free, national marketing you can quickly see how the time and effort you put in will pay off.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014