Encouraging Online Reviews
Sipping a fragrant cup of Silk Road tea at Tre Fantastico (the newest Caffe Fantastico location in the Parkside Resort in Victoria) I chatted with the barista across the coffee shop and a gentleman sitting beside me. I felt right at home in this place and felt deep appreciation for the opportunity to enjoy the spanish-influenced music floating softly from the speakers above me, and the elegant atmosphere of tall windows and natural light pouring in.
This positive experience inspired me to want to give back in some way – to spread the word about this happy little haven. Sometimes I mention to the staff of an establishment that I enjoyed the food, or their service…. but what I want to do more of is to leave reviews in places that they can be found by others. Something that has more “shelf-life” so to speak.
There are a variety of ways that I leave reviews. Sometimes I’ll use an app on my iPhone, or login to a website to do so. If I am recommending a professional I will do so on LinkedIn, if I want to do a shout-out I will do so on Twitter and Facebook, and if it is a business or restaurant that I am reviewing I might do so when I check-in on foursquare or Urbanspoon, in addition to snapping a photo of the place or food.
I am also now starting to use Google HotPot. It’s free to set up an account, and you get to start reviewing immediately. Almost all the businesses that you visit are already listed automatically by Google, but many of them haven’t been review yet so it’s a fantastic opportunity to really make a difference for a business owner. Another benefit of many online review platforms is that they are social – allowing you to see what places your friends have reviewed.
What I want to do is encourage you to start thinking this way too. If you’ve just experienced something exceptional and want to give that business or person a true gift – there is nothing like a positive written review. You could send a card, which is a nice gesture, but…
Consider the lasting impact of your online review:
- Other people can benefit from it who are trying to make informed buying decisions
- The person/business you have written about can link to the review as a testimonial for years to come
- Online reviews are now being factored into search engine rankings
- The person/business can use your review as feedback to help them improve
Of course, not all reviews are positive, but when you have a reputation management strategy, even grim reviews of your business can be managed and used a customer service opportunity.
For example, when I was in Texas this past Christmas, I went into a coffee shop called Bundy’s. It ended up being one of the worst customer services experiences I have had. The staff were rude, and left me feeling that I had inconvenienced them simply by ordering coffee and a cinnamon bun. I promptly went on to Urbanspoon to write about my experience. I was fair, as always, in my assessment – telling them that the food was great, and I appreciated the free WiFi, however I needed to tell them that the service was terrible and left me feeling that I had made a mistake going in there. I thought the incendent would end at that…
Interestingly, I received a reply from the owner two days ago (better late than never) thanking me profusely for my review. She went on to tell me that my review had confirmed her suspicions about a particular employee, and after monitoring the situation for a while she decided to let that person go. The owner let me know that next time I am in the area I should come in and introduce myself to her, and lunch will be on her. I was delighted by her openness to my feedback and commitment to customer services. Actually, I even added an update to my review saying that I had been contacted by the owner, that she had made changes in response to my review, and that I would be happy to try the cafe again if ever in the area.
Do you have a story about an online review you’ve given or received?