[ by Cody Owens, Assured Self Storage ]
I’m sure we all know the benefits of getting customer reviews–free marketing, boost in search engine rankings, appealing to potential customers–even the bad reviews show us how we can improve. It’s easy to see that customer reviews are valuable, but it’s not at all easy to convince customers to write a review. With all the review methods available, like Google, Yahoo, Yelp, FourSquare, etc., you’d think it wouldn’t be hard for every satisfied customer to get online and mention how pleased they were with their squeaky clean storage unit or the exceptionally helpful facility manager. But for many self-storage facilities, customer reviews come few and far between. For this reason, we’ve compiled seven simple tips to help you get customer reviews!
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for customer reviews
Often we’re timid about asking clients to write a review for us, as it may seem pushy or intrusive to their schedule. However, that shouldn’t be a concern if you are tactful and polite, making the review suggestion in a way that communicates to the customer how much you appreciate their effort. If they know how much their reviews can help you, they’ll be more interested in lending a helping hand.
2. Capitalize on happy customers
The best times to ask for a review is if you’ve just had a customer compliment your facility and business practices, or have seen their needs met by an exemplary employee. When you see that glow of satisfaction on the customer’s face, suggest they get online and write about the experience. Having a good experience with customer service is refreshing, thus leaving people eager to tell others.
3. Give directions for the review process
One of the most effective ways to gather business reviews is to make the process look easy. Not everyone is familiar with Yelp, Google+ Local or YellowPages; they might not understand how to get online and write a review. Prevent the review process from looking intimidating by printing out brief, understandable directions that show them how they can easily write a review and help your business out, without wasting any time from their day. Some effective places to ask for a review with directions:
- Sign in the office window
- Business cards
- Website (include direct links to review submission page)
- QR codes (scan with smartphone and be directed straight to the review page)
- Be creative!
4. Use contests and incentives to encourage reviews
While using incentives to encourage reviews may be frowned upon or prohibited by some review sites, it can be an effective way to gain reviews when done carefully. Make sure you don’t control the types of reviews or insinuate that only positive reviews are acceptable; customers should feel free to express whatever they choose. Be creative with contests–award customer participation, which can be on your website, social media or review sites.
5. Respond to reviews promptly and sincerely
Another extremely important element to encouraging more reviews and customer participation is to maintain a high level of awareness regarding the reviews that your facility receives and which customers wrote them. If you see a positive review, either respond in the thread or send an email thanking them for their effort and letting them know how much they have helped you. If it is a negative review, respond immediately and visibly, sincerely expressing your regrets for their bad experience and proposing an undeniably good solution to their problem. Again, the best way to respond to customer reviews, especially negative ones, is within the same comment thread, so that anyone else who might be reading those reviews and considering using your facility will see the high quality of your customer service.
6. Turn negative reviews into positive opportunities
It’s easy to accept compliments from satisfied customers and extremely difficult to graciously receive criticism from unhappy ones. Customer complaints may seem like a negative part of running a business, but in fact they are golden opportunities for your business acumen to shine through the mess and win loyal customers. If you can handle yourself well while addressing complaints and reach a solution that changes the dissatisfied customer’s attitude around, you’ve shown yourself to be head and shoulders above the rest. While this may be common sense for owners and managers, make sure the entire staff is aware of the policy so that they can work to turn negative situations around instead of giving up.
7. Important: make sure you’ve claimed your online profiles
Gaining and benefiting from customer reviews is easier if you’ve made sure you have claimed the online profiles for your business locations. Google (Google+ Local), Yahoo, Yelp, Bing and YellowPages are all very important review sites that allow you to claim your company’s location or profile, allowing you to list the correct location info, insert a link to your website, and monitor and respond to customer reviews. Keep in mind that more reviews on these sites boost your company’s ranking on search pages. The more reviews written on your online profiles, the easier it is for new customers to find you online.
Don’t wait any longer–start putting these seven tips to use, get customer reviews for your storage facility and see the benefits!
Image courtesy of interactmarketing.com