There is an unfortunate reality that all businesses face, that being negative or unfavorable reviews. If you have not had a customer post a negative review on one of the online rating websites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and/or RateMDs, you will. I know that is not news you wanted to hear, but it’s going to happen. Unfavorable online reviews will usually have some kind of negative impact on your business, so it is important you and your team are prepared for them. I say “usually”, since if you follow the tips outlined below, you may survive or even come out ahead.
Are online reviews important? The fact is according to Invesp, 90% of consumers read online reviews and 88% of them trust the online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
If you already have a strategy to proactively get positive reviews about your business posted on the most popular review sites, you are way ahead of the game. Here is how the math of “averages” works: if you only have one 1-star review, your average rating will be 1-star. If you have five, 5-star reviews and one 1-star review, then your average will be 4.3/5-stars (you would think it would be higher, but it’s not). Luckily, most people discount the most unfavorable reviews and the most favorable. However, we are also going to show you how to turn a negative review into a positive.
If you follow our 3-step process, you are sure to get more 5-star reviews!
Step 1: Identify the popular review websites in your area
The first thing you need to do is determine which online reviews websites are popular in your area. In some cities, Yelp is popular, for others it’s Facebook or Angie’s List. Since Facebook contains the ideal aesthetic business demographic, you can be assured Facebook Reviews will be on that list!
Here is a listing of popular business and medical office review websites:
- Facebook Reviews
- Google Reviews
- Angie’s List
- Care Dash
- Top Doctors
- RipOffReport.com (this site should list their site in the “Rip Off Report”, it’s nothing more than a front to sell their “reputation repair” services!)
- Whatclinic.com (another site that illegally copies your website and creates an artificially low ranking so you will pay them)
- And many more!
You should visit each of these sites, and see if you are listed on them. Often, these sites have internet robots that go through the internet and add you to their site without your approval. It’s very dishonest, but that is our reality. You should also Google your business’s name to see which websites you are listed on.
Step 2: Ensure you are providing excellent customer service
You may think you are providing excellent customer service, but until you test it you don’t really know. Have a 3rd party “secret shopper” service or a friend check up on your business. Have them call, how friendly was the phone answered? Were they encouraged to come in for a free consultation (or meeting)? Did they feel welcomed when they arrived at the business? How was the consultation? Did they feel listened to? How was the service? How was the post-purchase experience? Did they receive a follow-up call to see how they were doing?
Before you ask for reviews, you better make sure your house is in order!
Step 3: Ask every happy customer for a review
Now that you know the popular review sites in your area, you need to have a simple process in place to remind customers to post online reviews.
When we first started we just used a regular email (see example below), but that only went to customers who we thought loved us (the +4-star rating customers). This certainly added some 4 and 5-star ratings to Facebook and Google, but what it didn’t do is prevent 1-star ratings. If your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) has a survey option, this is ideal, as you can set up your system to email every customer after their purchase and ask them what they thought of their experience with you. If it was not a good one, you can now respond and make it right. If it was a good experience, you can then send a subsequent email request for them to do an online review of your business.
There are many ways of doing this survey. How you send out the survey doesn’t matter, but every customer needs to be surveyed after their purchase. Some of the ways in which you can send out a survey are:
- Using your existing CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or EMR (electronic medical records) software
- e-Newsletter software (Constant Contact, MailChimp)
- Survey software (Survey Monkey)
- Regular email
- Specialized software (Reputation Stacker, etc..).
One tip is to keep it simple, just ask one question like “would you recommend our business to a friend or family member?” It requires a yes or no response. If no, you need to follow-up immediately.
Whether you have a partially automated solution, utilize survey software, or old-fashioned email, the key to a successful business of happy customers and a happy team is to have a process to survey every customer. It is also important to let your team know that every customer will be surveyed, and use the ratings as part of the businesses performance numbers. When you tie it to their job or compensation, you will often see an increase in the customer review ratings.
The first people you should be hitting up for positive reviews are your friends, family and “raving” customers who love you! Obviously, don’t have people who haven’t been customers do reviews, and don’t open up multiple email/review site accounts at the same physical location (it is possible for internet services to know where the computer that does the review is located, and if they see many reviews from your business or home, they will flag them and phony and could penalize your online rankings).
Sample email request for a referral (for a medical spa):
We’d like to thank you for participating in Clinic Name Clean Start Weight Loss program. The goal of our medically supervised program is to quickly and effectively get your body back. If you have any questions on the maintenance portion of the program, please don’t hesitate to give the clinic a call.
As you know, there are many weight loss programs available, and you probably spent some time choosing this program. If you found that our program met your expectations, would you be so kind as to share your thoughts and feedback with others who may also be looking for an effective weight loss solution?
We know this is a lot to ask, but if you would, please feel free to do a quick rating and/or review on one (or all) of these websites (a Facebook rating only takes 5 seconds!):
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ClinicName/reviews/ (just click on the grey star!)
Google (if you use Gmail or Google): https://www.google.ca/search?q=clinic+name (click the “Write a Review” button on the right, below the map and address of the clinic).
Again, we thank you for choosing Clinic Name, and if any of your friends or family would like to avail of any of our services, we’d appreciate the referral. Ask them to tell us who referred them so we can give you a free month of our Lifestyle Maintenance Program (valued $99/m per referral).
We wish you the best!
Person name, title, contact info
That is it, a simple 3-step process to encourage your customers to give you an online review. Taking all this into consideration, we hope this guide gives you a comfort level in dealing with online reviews. Having this practical plan can certainly give you a level of satisfaction on the value of positive reviews and will result in validating the comfortable experience that your business gives your customers.
The above section is part of the IAPAM’s Secrets to a Successful Practice Workshop. If you have a negative review, check out my article on “How to Handle Negative Reviews” which includes a complete battle plan on how to respond and turn that 1-star into 5!
If you have any tips on getting 5-star reviews, please add them in the comments!