Reviews are very important to building materials companies and their builder, contractor and dealer customers. But most of these companies don’t know how to get the most out of them. They play defense with their reviews when they should be playing offense.
They’ll have someone whose job it is to monitor social media and sites like Yelp and Google for negative reviews and comments. They respond to those quickly. The goal is to show the reviewer and others that they care.
This is playing defense. It’s like your waiting for the punch of a negative review to hit you. This is not the smartest strategy.
Why Not Play Offense?
When I say companies should play offense, I don’t mean doing it in a stupid way by getting in arguments with people who leave negative comments.
For one thing, negative reviews aren’t always a bad thing. A few will even give credibility to your positive reviews. When all I see are five-star reviews, it makes me suspicious. When there are a few negative ones, it makes the positive reviews more believable.
Plus, fighting customers online doesn’t make you look very professional.
I also don’t mean acting like a YouTuber who asks everyone to like, subscribe and share their content.
By playing offense, I mean taking steps to getting recognized for the many times you go above and beyond to help a customer.
Every successful company tries to meet or exceed its customers’ expectations. Most of the time they deliver. A few times they’ll fall short. Once in a while, they will wildly exceed expectations.
If you’re not playing offense, your reviews will be filled with comments from almost every disappointed customer and very few from those who are overjoyed with your product and service.
I recently had a company wildly exceed my expectations. I was so impressed that I wrote the following review on Yelp as soon as I got home.
“I am very glad we have a real quality camera store in Boulder. Before I moved to Boulder from Ohio in 2012, I bought my camera equipment online. What I like about Mike’s are the products they have in stock and the knowledge of their staff. Mike’s has helped me transition from Nikon to Sony, from DSLR to mirrorless and from photography to video.
A few years ago I bought a small high-quality tripod from Mike’s. I loved that tripod because it was so sturdy and solid. I recently was using it and I turned a knob hard enough that it broke. I was surprised that it broke but I felt like it was my fault.
I took the tripod to Mikes’s to see if it could be repaired. If it couldn’t be repaired, I planned to buy another one. I assumed that it could not be repaired and it was my fault that it broke.
I explained the issue to a salesperson. He asked me to wait while he looked into whether they could repair it. The salesperson came back and told me “I’ve made an executive decision we’re going to give you a new tripod.” They didn’t ask me for my receipt or make me demand a replacement, they just did it! I will continue to buy from Mike’s and you should too!
Our local businesses need our support, especially when they deserve it.”
The salesman at Mike’s could tell by my reaction that he wildly exceeded my expectations. He wasn’t playing offense, so the idea of asking me to share my experience with others wasn’t even on his mind. But it should have been.
How to Play Offense With Reviews
- Enlist the help of everyone in your company who interacts with customers. Sales, customer service, shipping, technical support – they’re the ones who go above and beyond and get to see the customer’s appreciation. Ask them to look for these opportunities. When they find one, tell them to ask the customer for a review.
- Tell the customer where to share their review. Do you want it on Yelp, Facebook, Google, or somewhere else? Be specific. Notice how most podcasters say “rate and review us on Apple Podcasts” at the end of an episode. That’s because they want to send their listeners where their feedback will matter most. Do the same with your customers.
It’s Quality Over Quantity
You can tell when someone’s writing a review just because they were asked to leave one, not because something special happened. It becomes a task to check off their to-do list. There’s no heart and soul in what they’re writing.
When someone writes a negative review, on the other hand, it’s because they’re fired up. There’s a lot of emotion behind their words, which makes for good reading. They’ll usually tell a story with lots of pertinent details.
You want the same kind of energy in your positive reviews. You can only get that when you’ve surpassed the customer’s expectations.
When a positive review is written after a customer had an above and beyond experience, the reviewer is enthusiastic. They write with more emotion. They’re ready to tell a story, which makes it more compelling.
Imagine how boring my review would’ve been if Mike’s Camera asked me to write one after I dropped in just to buy a tripod. I probably would’ve written something like this:
“Great products. Reasonable prices. Good service.”
Not very compelling, is it? Definitely not compelling enough to outweigh a negative review.
Get on the Offensive
Hockey players don’t shoot the puck at the goal as soon as they have it. They wait for an opening.
That’s the right way to play offense with reviews, too. It’s not about asking every single customer to leave a review. It’s about waiting for those moments when you’ve made someone’s day and asking them to share it.
You have to notice customers who are full of appreciation, who are pleasantly surprised and who got more than they expected. Those are your openings.
Having those customers leave a review is going to do more to offset the negative ones than your responses ever could.
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