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There’s no such thing as a ‘Bad’ online review

There’s no such thing as a ‘Bad’ online review

 

How to turn negative reviews, fake or real into extra sales and PR.

 

There’s a lot of talk about ‘bad’ online reviews, and the negative effect they can have on a Pub or Hotel business, and, indeed many acres of print have been devoted to legal routes and fighting them. But we work with Pub and Hotel Businesses across the UK and have developed a different response that works to:

  • Reduce stress and time
  • Improve your PR whether the review is ‘good’ or ‘bad’
  • Help turn any review into extra business

These ideas have been adopted by leading Pub and Hotel operators across the UK, including former BII licensees of the year … and, by the way, they work.

So, what’s the secret and what do we do about these ‘bad’ reviews?

There are 4 steps:

Step 1: Accept that the world has changed and the customer really is in charge

  • Social media and online review sites have empowered the customer like nothing before: this is a genuine revolution in consumer behaviour, not a fad
  • Don’t swim against the tide, you’ll be like King Canute …. Pointless and frustrating.
  • Example of success: you see them every day in the news: Ebay, AirBnB, Uber etc

Point 2: Genuinely put the desire to give a ‘Great Customer Experience’ at the heart of all you do

  • In this new world, you can ONLY be genuinely successful in the long term if you change the ‘business mantra’ from:
    • ‘We’re here to make money, and we also want to be nice to the customer’.
    • To: ‘We’re here to be loved by the customer, if we do this well the money will follow, not the other way round’
  • This ‘customer communication revolution’ genuinely affects EVERYTHING you do, so you need to filter all your systems and processes through these beliefs.
  • Example of success: The Monkton Inn: small village pub increased turnover from under £1000 per week to over £12000 per week by genuinely adopting these principles

Point 3: Put proactive feedback systems in place

  • Don’t wait for the review to appear on TripAdvisor: it’s too late!
  • If you don’t actively demonstrate to the customer that you really DO care and really DO want their feedback, they’ll assume (usually correctly) that you don’t.
  • You must put proactive feedback systems in place to help them tell you what you need to know (to get Point 2 right!) These will vary according to the business, but may well include:
    • Tokens and feedback boxes (these work like magic in a pub)
    • Active Twitter engagement (customer like this)
    • Telephone feedback
    • Facebook page for feedback and engagement
    • Online systems
  • Examples of success:
    • The Bull’s Head Repton (amazingly successful pub run by former BII licensees of the year): tokens and feedback boxes
    • Café Nero: SIMPLE online feedback system

Point 4: React strongly and positively to all public online reviews: there’s no such thing as a ‘bad’ online review

  • KEY point: you are NOT responding to the individual, you are demonstrating your personality to the world – this is FREE PR and marketing, pure and simple
  • Calm your ego: customers are NOT always right (but they ARE always the customer)!
  • Respond to ALL reviews: otherwise it looks like you don’t care (This is VERY important)
  • Customers are 3X more interested in your response than the review: they know that people can be awkward: what they’re interested in is what you’re like when you respond!
  • Negative reviews are read 5X more than positive reviews: responding to these properly is a HUGE opportunity.
  • Example of excellence: The Rockford Inn, Exmoor (check out their TA reviews and responses!)

And lastly: ‘bad’ reviews: well, these fall into 2 categories:

‘Valid’ and ‘False’

For ‘Valid’ reviews, take it on the chin, ask them to contact you offline, and state publicly what you aim to be great at and how brilliantly you would have handled this complaint if it had been made direct to you at the time: Free publicity for how great you are.

For ‘False’ reviews, treat them exactly the same,

  • ask them politely and kindly to contact you offline
  • state your commitment to great customer experiences (and all the steps that you’re taking every day to make this a genuine reality)
  • apologize for what needs apologizing for, and state what you DO do and DON’T do (eg: you don’t need to apologise for not having a fruit machine if you don’t do fruit machines!) … and why this is.
  • state what you would have done if they had brought this to your attention at the time
  • reiterate your commitment to feedback and wanting to get it right for the customer
  • if you can manage it, add a little humour throughout: the reader will pick it up, and after all, pubs and hotels are supposed to be fun places!

 

  • Example of excellence: Pizzeria Delfina SanFrancisco: search for their response to false reviews on Yelp: it’s hilarious and supercharged their business.

 

If you manage all the above well, you should also get MANY more positive reviews online – that’s GREAT: it’s free marketing to the people who are interested! Fantastic!

So: there’s no such thing as ‘bad’ reviews, and, by the way, there’s no such thing as ‘bad’ feedback: it’s how you respond to it that makes all the difference.

 

 

How to beat the competition?

How to beat the competition?

There is always pressure to watch the competition, to see if we can beat them or if they are currently beating us. So many businesses obsess about what their competition is doing that they miss the true issue at stake. It is not the competition but instead themselves, their own beliefs, systems and actions.

True winners do not focus on the competition: they focus on themselves. They seek to truly improve everything they do, using information systematically gathered from their developing relationships with customers.

In the world of the empowered consumer and transparent online feedback, this has never been more important. Customers can toy with your reputation at the click of a mouse, publicise your problems at the swipe of a screen, and tell the whole world whether you were great or poor in a nano-second.

The true competition is not who you think it is. The true competition is your own business: your systems and processes, and whether they are good enough for the hyper-competitive world of the empowered customer.

Of course it’s important to keep an eye on what’s happening in your market, and to know what your supposed competitors are offering to clients, but this is only background information. I urge you to use this as a starting point only and instead obsess on the following four points:

Get closer to your customers. Your customers can tell you what’s out in the market, what you’re doing well and what you’re not. You then know what needs to change, and through this process you will also build world-class customer loyalty.

Put a continuous improvement and innovation system into place in your business, based on small steps, continually executed. We call this ‘going the extra inch’.

Filter all your systems and processes through the customer’s emotional needs: trust, attention and easy life. This way you can avoid inadvertently putting your foot in it, and make sure all of your systems deliver the optimum customer experience, resulting in maximum customer loyalty, reputation, cross-sales, up-sales and referrals.

Make sure you have at the heart of your organisation something we call a ‘customer-focussed mission’. This is a belief that you are not there to make money, but instead to do something so well that customers want to give you their money. This needs to cover every aspect of your business and direct everything you do within it.

If you do all of these things well it will enable you to continually improve and rise head and shoulders above the competition. Always keep an eye on your competition, as we’ve already mentioned, but more importantly keep an eye on yourself. Focus on your systems and ensure that you are continually improving and innovating to meet and exceed the needs of your customer: next week, next month, next year and next decade. In this hyper-competitive customer-empowered world nobody knows what’s round the corner, but you need to know before anyone else does, otherwise your market could literally disappear overnight, or trickle away until you suddenly realise that things have changed but it’s already too late.

Don’t focus on the competition. Focus on yourself and your competition will become less of a problem.

 

A complaint is a compliment

A complaint is a compliment

 

A complaint is a compliment: what do we mean by this?  Surely a complaint is a bad thing because it means that the customer is unhappy about something?

Well, of course it’s usually better to have happy customers than unhappy ones, but, who are you kidding?  You can’t get it right all the time, no matter how great your business and systems.  And the person who will notice when you’ve made a mistake before anyone else is the customer.

Yet all research shows that the customer very often doesn’t tell the organisation, so most organisations are supremely ignorant customer experience and all the small moments of truth that really matters to the customer that they are not getting the right is the need to in order to deliver consistent and continually improving customer reputation and loyalty.

So, when the customer complains, they are really doing you a massive favour:

  1. They are informing you of something about your business that you may well not have been aware of.
  2. They are telling you rather than all their friends behind your back.
  3. They are bucking the trend and are being brave enough to bring this to your attention when the 20 other people may well have noticed it but not told you anything about it.
  4. They are subconsciously telling you that they trust you to do something about it and want to have a long-term relationship with your business.

So it’s always a mystery to me why customer facing staff in any organisation so often find a complaint a problem to deal with.

Instead of saying: “thank you so much for bringing this to my attention, let me listen to you more”, they often say something inane and defensive that puts the customer’s back up and makes them which they had never bought this matter to the attention of the member of staff in the first place.

Top tip: change the word “complaint” to “compliment”

Action:

  1. Send this piece of information to every member of your staff and have a 10 minute meeting every month on the value, power and joy of compliments.
  2. Start developing a world class compliment response process that is designed to consistently build reputation and referrals in every situation.

For more information for practical support in these areas, please contact support@salesthroughservice.com

Business Karma

Business Karma

The Dalai Lama writes:

‘The word ‘Karma’ simply means ‘action’. So when we talk about our ‘Karma’ we are talking about our intentional (and unintentional) acts of body, speech and mind. And when we talk about the fruits of our Karma, we are talking about the consequences of those acts.’

The same is true of Organisations (and teams within them). Their ‘Karma’ are their acts, and the fruits of their ‘Karma’ is their reputation in the market (and therefore their customer loyalty and referrability).

So ‘Karma’ is VITAL FOR LONG TERM SUCCESS in today’s world of informed and hyper-connected customers.

How do Organisations usually know what results their Karma are generating? There are 3 ways:

  1. Guessing (the normal way) – resulting in pain and waste
  2. Surveys (the next most normal way) – the same as guessing, but this time with the added complication of incomplete and misleading information thrown in!
  3. Genuine customer feedback and engagement (the rare way) – resulting in genuine knowledge, motivation, reputation, loyalty and referrals

The conclusions are simple and don’t need to be spelt out.

In a world where the fruits of your ‘Karma’ will determine your success, you need to obsessively listen for your ‘Karma’ and systematically work on it bit by bit, until it is consistently and predictably positive.

And then work on it some more.

Please feel free to contact us for free information on how to do this in your team or organisation: support@salesthroughservice.com

How can we compete with online retailers?

How can we compete with online retailers?

This is a question we help a lot of our customers with.

The business landscape has changed dramatically, and this is affecting every business sector: the revolution that began with the world’s biggest bookstore online, now is effective goods and services in every sector around the world. Just look at a website like www.upwork.com for evidence.

So, how can a ‘traditional’ retailer compete?

We suggest two approaches.

  1. ‘Get great’
  2. ‘Get involved’

And you can use these individually or separately.

Get Great.

Customers do NOT buy on price … they buy on value. All great brands and long term successful businesses are NOT the cheapest … they are the best in terms of the value to the customer.

By this we mean that your value is your price multiplied by your customer experience (CX).

  • If your customer is only interested in price, then the CX score is 0 and these are your price obsessive fickle customers … and you don’t want these customers if you want a profitable sustainable business … let your competitors have them!
  • If, on the other hand, there is some value to the CX, then you need to know what the value is and how you can add it at every step on the customer journey (and the online retailers themselves know this and are doing this exercise obsessively). We suggest you look at your customers’ REAL needs (these needs are emotional needs and triggers), and step by step, inch by inch, develop your systems and processes to blow their socks off at every step.

Of course this is easy to say, and much harder to do: that why we work in the area of providing our customers with a simple and powerful systematic approach to help them do this: it’s called the ‘Great or Poor’ approach.

Do this well, as well as keeping a close eye on your online competition (which your customers will help you understand if you let them), and you’ll not only survive but thrive by offering new services that turbocharge your customer offer.

A good example of this was the wedding photographer client of ours who was suffering from lack of demand (everyone’s got a camera and a video camera with them on their phones these days), and listened closely and changed his business offer to include managing and sorting all these pictures and videos (rather than just taking the pictures in the 1st place), and now has had to take on 3 members of staff to cope with the demand.

Get involved

The other option (that can only work in addition to the above point we suggest) is to join the online retailing movement and offer your particular specialist skills and services online.

How do I make sure that I always get good feedback?

How do I make sure that I always get good feedback?

The answer is you can’t and you don’t want to anyway.

  1. You can’t: we’re now in the age of the empowered customer and the transparent business. Don’t try and manipulate the customer feedback and reviews: it’d be like King Canute trying to hold back the tide.
  2. You don’t want to: because in the age of the empowered customer, no one trusts an Organisation that only has great reviews (that’s why ‘testimonials’ no longer have any value). So it’s OK to get bad (and good) reviews and feedback: just accept them and use them to power continual improvement and continual development of your customer relationships and loyalty.

This is a truly new age, and it needs truly new tools: you can’t build a steam engine with the tools of a carpenter …

The tools you need are outlined in our book ‘Great or Poor’. This work outlines a simple, systematic approach to using the customer experience as your key driver of success, and gives you 4 straightforward but powerful principles and steps to achieve this.

If you want further information and support on how to get this right, please contact us at support@salesthroughservice.com

 

How do I destroy my competition and make lots more money?

How do I destroy my competition and make lots more money?

The answer is to see your competition as yourself … not as the others.

Of course you need to know what’s happening in the market, but the best way to do this is to get very close to your customers (including potential customers and lapsed customers).

And, yes ok, listen to some ‘experts’ but take everything they say with a large pinch of salt.

But, to answer the question, if you examine almost all truly long term successful and profitable organisations, you will find that they obsessed about themselves and how they could obsessively, systematically, consistently, and continually blow their customers’ socks off.

So, focus on this, and getting as close to your customers as you can, and they not only fantastically complement each other, but they also, by the way, will destroy your competition and ensure you make lots more money.

(And when you do, don’t stop doing what got you there in the first place!)

If you want further information and support on how to get this right, please contact us at support@salesthroughservice.com

 

How do we gather feedback effectively?

How do we gather feedback effectively?

In the world of the empowered customer, feedback is the breakfast of champions.

In the ‘old world’ of one way mass communication, marketing was king, but as this changes to the world of two way mass communication, the power of marketing continues to diminish and the power of engagement and innovation around the customer’s REAL needs is the new main business driver.

And effective feedback systems are the powerhouse of this driver.

So, how do we gather feedback effectively?

The answer to this is specific to the specific situation of your organisation and situation, in exactly the same way that marketing has been. It would be churlish to write ‘just do these things and this will solve all your problems’ (exactly as it would with marketing). In short, there is no quick fix.

But here are some rules to help:

  1. Do it for a genuine reason – this is a new world, not a PR exercise
  2. Get it going little by little – test and measure every step
  3. Put robust follow up and action systems in place early – it’s not the feedback that matters, it’s what you do with it that counts
  4. Do it properly – this is not a cheap or a quick fix exercise, this is about building up long term customer loyalty, reputation, referrals and innovation
  5. Design it to enhance the customer experience in itself – not an annoyance to the customer!
  6. Make it personal – this is about genuinely building relationships
  7. Continually focus and hone it – this is now an essential business survival tool

 

For help in setting this up and auditing effectiveness, please see www.investorsinfeedback.com

How do I handle complaints?

How do I handle complaints?

We all get complaints: some are maybe fairer than others, and there’s a lot of print acreage devoted to strategies to deal effectively with them.

There’s perhaps one point I’d like to try and make crystal clear in this post:

In the age of global choice, 2 way instant communication and transparent online reviews, the real issue with complaints is:

NOT the complaint itself, but

Your attitude to the complaint and how you handle it that matters.

Of course it’s important to deal with the complaint itself professionally, but customers will judge you and share their opinions worldwide about you on such issues as:

  • How easy you made it for them to tell you
  • How welcomed their feedback was
  • How well you listened and showed that you genuinely gave a s**t
  • How you went out of your way to try and ensure they left happy

These are the key issues to concentrate on – these are what will turn individual complaints into massive PR triumphs (or the opposite).

A start point is to change the word ‘complaint’ into ‘compliment’, because, by complaining, they’re giving you the message that they care about your customer experience, and believe you’re mature and caring enough to deal with their feedback constructively and kindly.

On top of that, they’re bringing something to your attention that 20 other customers have walked away from without telling you (and instead told their friends on social media).

And those are massive compliments.

How do I handle mistakes?

How do I handle mistakes?

We all make mistakes.

But in the age of global 2 way communication, and instant online feedback and sharing, they can be hyper dangerous – just ask Gerald Ratner if you want proof!

So, in this hyper connected age, it’s vital (not important, vital) to have a key set of simple principles to follow, when they occur: and of course, the flip side of all this is that in this hyper connected age, if you get it right, then mistakes well handled can be a massive boost to your reputation and business.

Want to see it done well: have a look at what M&S did when they ‘boobed’.

Before we go into the rules, we must point out that the rules are based on 4 (common sense) principles, that every customer is looking for:

  1. We genuinely care
  2. We consider the customer’s real needs above all else
  3. We focus on continual small changes
  4. We value feedback and act on it

So, here are some rules:

  1. Actively LOOK for boobs: most customers won’t tell you openly (they’ll tell their friends)
  2. See boobs as opportunities to excel, not something to be frightened of
  3. When you find one, apologise immediately (it doesn’t matter whose fault it was)
  4. Ask the customer for their thoughts and opinions empathically
  5. Reflect and agree small actions together
  6. Thank the customer genuinely for bringing this to your attention (if they hadn’t, the world would know about it via social media, but you wouldn’t)
  7. Take the actions
  8. Thank the customer again
  9. Check the customer’s happy
  10. Take a small action to change processes so the boob can’t be repeated

OK: rocket science it ain’t, but also common practice it ain’t. And this is the No 1 cause for problems in reputation and customer loyalty in organisations. Most boobs are small, but all boobs matter to customers.

The answer is actually quite easy:

  1. Embed the principles in your Organisation (this has to be GENUINE or it’s nothing)
  2. Continually train the actions

Then, and only then, boobs will become massive opportunities.

 ‘Sales through Service’ is a proven and powerful set of systems to boost sales whilst also enhancing the customer experience – to receive a free ebook ‘The 7 Deadly Sins of Sales’, please email support@salesthroughservice.com or visit http://www.salesthroughservice.com/free-sales-resources/