By Jerry Bazata, “Money Answer Man”
The Wedding Industry has developed and fostered an obsession with reviews. Be it from clients or vendors, we have placed a significant weight on the “review” as an indication of the success or at times failure of our business. We consistently strive to achieve the perfect rating of “5 Golden Stars” with every client. Never satisfied with just a few but continually amass volumes of stars and rhetoric to show we are the best in the business. Reviews overall can be damaging to your business, and I am not talking about a negative review, which contrary to popular belief is actually a positive, rather the way we manage the review process within our own business. Myths, misconceptions and tools regarding the reviews and how to manage them effectively:
- Less is More: we have been taught that the more reviews you gather the greater your company will be noticed and prospects like to read lots of reviews about your business. In fact this is a myth, on average a prospect will only read the first 2 – 3 most recent reviews about your business, and then make a decision if they want to go further in the selection process. Boosting in your advertising that you have 100 reviews is meaningless since a prospect is never going to read every one of them. It also calls into question the validity of those reviews and the genuine nature of their content.
- Perfection is Deception: we do not live in perfect world and we all make mistakes or have an off day. Greater than 90% of potential clients place less confidence in a business with glowing reviews and a perfect “5 Golden Star” rating, than a business with an occasional average review which points out some minor shortcomings. In fact I personally received a negative review that was titled “unimpressed” and yet the prospects I spoke with who saw that review, was “unimpressed” by the review’s comments. She further stated it actually made me more legitimate as a business in their eyes. In the words of one prospect turned client; “you are human, you will make mistakes and you can’t please everyone.”
- Quality over Quantity: a quality review will highlight significant steps or actions you took to make the clients experience exceptional. If the reviews simple state the obvious repeatedly and do nothing more than support your marketing statements, the prospect has no clue has to how you are unique or stand out from your competition. An overwhelming majority of the reviews I see for DJs all say the same thing; “Played the music we requested, had the dance floor full, was great to work with and was responsive to our needs” Is this not the standard expectation for every professional Disc Jockey? If all your reviews accumulated say this very same statement in one form or another, then it begs the question by a prospect, what is unique about this person or business.
What can you do to manage the review process and add to your bottom line:
- Prescreen your reviews for content: Prior to asking a client to post a review on The Knot, send them a personal email asking for feedback about your performance. Read the response and highlight one or two unique thoughts they shared, and then invite them to post those thoughts in a review. If there is anything negative about your performance, it will allow you to address those concerns in a non-public form and allow you the chance to mitigate the concerns in a professional manner The bride may rethink the statements and turn it into positive comments when the review is posted.
- Respond and Interact with your Clients: Acknowledge the review and thank the client for taking the time to share the positive aspects of your service. Reviews are not a one-way street and prospects are looking to see you’re not taking these comments for granted. Secondly, it will allow you to highlight something unique you did, but the bride forgot to mention in the review. A word of caution, customize your response to each review, just like the reviews can all say the same thing, your response should not be canned. Remember “one size does not fit all”.
- Respond Professionally: Should you be fortunate enough to get a constructive negative review on your business page, look at it as an opportunity. Although you’re initial reaction is to become defense and respond as such, take a step back and think carefully about what you want to put in writing. Your response should be short, concise and speak to the following:
- Acknowledge the fact you did not meet the clients expectations.
- You will strive to improve and learn from the comments presented
- Congratulate the client on their special day and wish them well.
The #1 mistake made by a vast majority of vendors getting a bad review is to immediately point out “you are right-they are wrong” and these are reasons why. Allow a prospect to read between the lines and determine if this was a legitimate complaint about your service or someone looking to “grind an ax”. A well-known Dairy Store had the following chiseled in granite at the front of the store:
Rule #1: The Customer is always Right
Rule #2: If the Customer is wrong, refer back to Rule #1
Keeping this in mind it will help to temper your response and avoid what could turn into an adversarial situation in a public forum, creating further damage to your reputation than the original negative review that was posted.
- Be Transparent with Reviews: Do not be afraid or ashamed to point out the fact you’re received a less than stellar review from a past client. The conversation might go similar to one I had recently with a prospective client:
DJ: Did you have a chance to read my reviews on The Knot?
Bride: Yes I did and I like some of the ideas the other brides shared in their comments.
DJ: Did you read the review by Julie were I did not quite meet her expectations?
Bride: Yes I did but you had so many positive comments, I simple disregarded it as a bride that was just not happy with her day overall.
In summary, reviews were never intended to the primary marketing tool for your business and as such should be treated that way accordingly. Rather use them as a communication tool to prospects to enhance the positive traits of your business beyond the general marketing dialog.