I was recently in Austin, Texas attending a professional meeting and dining experiences are important parts of these trips. And in Austin, that means BARBEQUE (however you want to spell it)! Not being local "regular" consumers of barbeque, my colleagues and I turned to the reviews on Google and Yelp to help us locate a quality establishment.
Of course finding a local restaurant is different from selecting a surgeon, attorney or dentist, but if you consider that our time in Austin was limited, we wanted a memorable experience to share later, and we didn’t know if or when we will be back again, this was an important decision. In fact, my colleague Mark probably spent as much time and thought researching the Austin barbecue market than many people spend selecting a law firm to call, or contacting a plastic surgeon's or dental office!
What he discovered was pretty amazing!
First, there are more than 150 barbeque restaurants alone in Austin! And the overall top rated barbeque restaurant was Franklin Barbeque. Between Google and Yelp alone, this establishment has over 4,000 reviews and about a 4.6-star rating out of 5. But the most amazing part of all this is the wait in line to get served (they don’t take reservations) was as long as five hours! No joke.
Needless to say, we didn’t have five hours to spend, so we settled on a place that Mark thought was the second best place, La Barbeque. Again, they don’t take reservations. As we stood in line in the hot Texas sun, a server came out and wrote on a sandwich board "Out of Beef Ribs". Later, she wrote, "Out of Pork Ribs." Then it was "Out of Sausage," followed by "Out of Pulled Pork" and then Coke! By the time we got to order, they were down to just brisket, chopped beef and turkey (Mark was able to snag a few sausages that they had stashed away!).
Turns out we waited in line for about two hours to get served out of a window of a food truck and eat off of plates that consisted of sheets of brown waxed paper. And we loved it! We walked over a mile back to our hotel talking about the experience. We then spent the rest of the meeting sharing this experience with as many people as we could.
The Halo Effect
The Halo Effect is a psychology term used to describe a cognitive bias that people form when they have positive experience or feelings in one area that cause ambiguous, negative or neutral traits to also be viewed as positive. In our case, the barbeque at the end was something we all said was the best we ever had. It also helped us justify the whole experience.
The volume and quality of the reviews also had a psychological impact on our overall positive perception as to our experience. The reviews raved about the brisket and even the waiting was somewhat expected. At Franklin Barbeque, waiting is even seen as part of the whole experience in going there, somewhat like earning your badge.
Of course, we all see the marketing value of so many positive reviews and how reviews and review platforms can become a significant lead generation opportunity in and of themselves. In this case, there is no question that it has for both of these establishments. They can also serve a similar role in your practice or firm if done right.
The Biggest Impact To Your Practice
Although reviews have the potential to boost your lead generation, an even bigger impact that reviews should have on your business is your business itself and the quality of your services. To get more positive reviews from your customers, it starts with providing higher quality services and results. It means communicating more consistently and personally with the people that pay you; setting the right expectations and exceeding them. It means not taking their business for granted.
Probably more important than just generating “non-bonded” leads, this customer-centric focus will also boost your word-of-mouth business over the long haul. And we all recognize that increasing referrals is the greatest form of new business for the practice that can also insulate you from some of the advertising effects of your competitors.
Last but not least, an increased focus on your reviews and quality of your services will bring you a much higher quality of life as a business owner. In the end, no marketing or even asking for positive reviews from all of your customers will save a poor product or service. The impact of reviews will likely either elevate the results of your marketing and increase your results, or accelerate the inevitable decline of your practice.
1.) Build Your Communication With Your Contacts – If your database of past customers does not include emails, you need to make an effort to get them and from all new clients as well. Maintaining electronic communication is an essential part of providing better service and building an ongoing relationship with your customer base. Newsletters and other announcements and updates are fundamental elements to your internal marketing efforts.
2.) Timing – When asking customers for feedback on your services (and possibly encourage sharing by posting a review) be sure to take advantage of timing and make sure you strike while the iron is still hot and the positive experience of your quality services are still fresh in their mind.
3.) Break Down Barriers – The biggest barrier to successful review marketing is you and your team. Don’t be afraid to ask happy customers to share how you did. Simply ask. In most cases, they want to help you and would appreciate the opportunity to share in the growth and success of your practice.
4.) Focus On The Positive – In many cases, practice owners focus only on the occasional or rare negative review. Yes, it is important to address unhappy customers in a professional problem solving manner. However, most practices miss out on the biggest opportunity and that is to acknowledge and thank those that post your positive reviews. Realize that these are also the most likely candidates for referring you new business and who want to participate in your success. Nothing is more disappointing for a positive customer than going out of their way to help you and not know if you even noticed. Also, seeing that you acknowledge them may initiate others to post their reviews as well.
5.) Use a Review Management Platform - To ensure consistency, which is essential to growing positive reviews, make the process easy for you and your team members. Utilize a review marketing platform that can help distribute these requests and leverage timing. It is also important that your review marketing platform allow you to select the review websites you want to build more reviews on. As your number of positive reviews grows, you should regularly modify it to diversify your sources for reviews to enhance the credibility of your reviews.
If you would like us to evaluate your review marketing opportunities, give us a call at 800-368-9700, or email us.