Your online reputation is more important than you may think. According to BrightLocal, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. These days, consumers use online reviews before nearly every purchase, and the golf industry is no exception. Before playing a new course, golfers are increasingly more likely to do some online research, primarily looking to answer two questions: How much does it cost to play and is the course “worth it”. Reviews play a large role in the latter.
Online reviews are a part of an environment that can be a hard to control. For every 1,000 good customers, there is always 1 bad one. The unfortunate truth is that users with bad experiences are much more likely to leave a review than those that have had good experiences. This fact leaves businesses feeling frustrated and helpless. What can you do?
When deciding best how to respond to a review, be it positive or negative, there are a few things you should always keep in mind:
- Never make your response a personal matter. Don’t insult or instigate the customer by becoming defensive.
- All responses should be written in the same manner as any other content you post to social media or your website: useful, readable, and courteous.
- A review response isn’t the place for a sales pitch, but can be a place for sharing new information about your business or anything else a customer may have not learned from a previous visit.
Responding to Negative Reviews
No one likes to receive negative feedback or critiques of their business, but negative reviews happen to everyone. When responding to criticism online, try to remember these tips before you reply.
Never respond when you're upset. These reviews are easy to take as personal attacks being the business owner, but it’s imperative that you stay calm or give yourself some time before you respond. Always reply with the same politeness and professionalism you would expect to receive from another business, and stay focused on the issue at hand. You may choose to reply through a direct message, but this rule still applies. Many businesses have seen embarrassing or volatile “private” conversations go viral after being shared by an upset customer, and this only serves to hurt your brand reputation. Decide if the negative review is even worth responding to. If the concerns raised are irrational or are given by someone who could be called a habitual complainer, you have the option to not respond. However, any legitimate concerns by genuine or high-profile customers or negative reviews on popular sites should be addressed.
In some scenarios, you can request to have negative reviews removed from the site. However, this may take some time and your petition may be dismissed by the website administrators. Instead, think about the complaint, and try to understand what happened from the customers point of view. Take this as an opportunity to improve your business and engage with your customer base, and make sure you cover all your bases. Once you have spoken with staff or employees who were on duty, contact the customer privately. Following a few common courtesy items (such as introducing yourself, thanking them for their business, feedback, and apologizing for their experience not being satisfactory), make sure to clearly outline your understanding of the issue and move on from there. Many businesses opt to offer a discount or some other compensation for poor experiences, but this is not a necessity.
If the person doesn’t respond or takes some time to respond to a private outreach, still go ahead and respond publicly. Address the concern in this response and outline what you have done to resolve the issue. Other readers will see you are responsive to even negative feedback and this should boost your credibility.
Make It Easy to Vent
It’s likely that all of you have had such a bad experience with a business that you feel compelled to tell someone, whether you’ve left a bad review online as a result, or just bad-mouth the company to your friends and acquaintances. One effective way to prevent customers from leaving bad reviews in public places is to make it easy for them to complain and feel heard by the management of your business.
Not every customer with a bad experience is going to confront your staff personally, so it’s important to provide a less direct way for these customers to be heard. A suggestion box is one idea, but this still requires that unhappy customer to take action in a public environment. People prefer to leave their feedback digitally these days.
Responding to Positive Reviews
On to the good stuff. Positive reviews are what every business owner is searching for from their online presence. They are validation of good work and physical proof you’re meeting your customer’s needs. Don’t take these lightly though! A good response to a positive review is just as important as responding to negative reviews. This is a chance to not only show off your businesses value, but to show your customers how dedicated you are to good customer service and engagement.
Make sure to not devalue your response by turning it into a sales pitch. Thank your reviewer sincerely, not just for leaving positive review but for their business. Reinforce the positive comment left, acknowledge any concerns or issues they may have raised, and welcome them back to your business.
You can even encourage more reviews by asking each customer if they’re pleased with your business and/or experience, and if so, would they leave a review online. Spread the word of your positive customer reviews by using them in sales proposals, highlight them on your website, display them in your business, and so on. Remember to share them with staff, even if no one is specifically mentioned as it can boost morale and remind staff of the impact they have on customers and their experiences.
Asking for Positive Reviews
Ask nicely. Yes, just simply ask. Encourage customers that have had positive experiences to leave a review on the platform of their choosing. Facebook, Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor are all some of the most popular review sites on the internet, so these are all good options. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how often people will accept the invitation.
However, we all know how it goes. You get busy, forget to ask the customer, and now your opportunity for a 5-star review is gone. Luckily, with the right technology, there are ways to automate this “asking” process completely.
121’s Review & Reputation Management Tool
We’ve developed a tool that allows golf courses to get more 4 and 5-star reviews, prevent bad reviews, and do it all in an automated fashion. Our Review & Reputation Management Tool integrates with the POS system to send an email to golfers after they’ve completed their round. The golfers are then encouraged to leave a 4 or 5-star review, with multiple platforms to choose from. Those that choose a 3-star and under rating are then brought to a contact form to reach out to the management of the course with their feedback, privately. Think of it as a virtual suggestion box.
By automatically inviting customers to leave feedback with our Review & Reputation Management Tool, you’ll improve your online ratings, significantly reduce the number of bad reviews that get published, and receive invaluable feedback to help improve your golf facility.