Reviews of your organization in the digital space are the lifeblood of brand awareness and customer conversions. A recent survey from TripAdvisor revealed that hotel guests will read 6-12 reviews before booking their stay. Reviews play a key role in not only the final decision making process, but also in potential customer's ability to discover your business online in local business listings.
Google's local business listings is a directory of local offerings related to a user's search query. When individuals search for a local hotel for instance, Google's search results will populate a group of hotels they believe match the best options for the user. Those chosen typically reap the reward of website views and oftentimes, bookings. So how does Google choose winners and losers?
While Google doesn't provide in depth information of the makeup of their algorithms, they do provide us with best practices in aiding their search engine in discovery. A few of the most critical factors in how Google ranks in their local listings include:
- Website usability and keyword-related content
- Google local profile setup and business verification
- Local business listings across the web, also known as citations.
- Customer reviews
While most of the items listed above are more related to initial infrastructure that is setup upfront when you launch your organization's digital properties, customer reviews are a long-term process that are tied into many facets of your business. Cultivating reviews for your business starts with enabling your customers with clear instructions to leave feedback via a few simple avenues.
Encouraging customers to leave feedback for your business starts inside your business. Creating signage that sits in the right spaces and provides crystal clear messaging on exactly how to leave a review is critical. Small placards at checkin/checkout counters, lounge areas, bathrooms, and in rooms that provide a step-by-step process to leaving feedback via Google is a great start. Making sure employees encourage reviews and provide support to customers who may not be familiar with the process is critical as well. The key is to have customer reviews be a goal of not only the organization as a whole, but each individual customer-facing employee.
Email marketing is one of the best ways to receive feedback after a customer's stay because both the message and the review are both delivered within the digital space. Try creating an email template that thanks customers for their stay and directly asks for their feedback. Utilizing a tool like Mailchimp will even allow you to automate the entire process - from email capture to sending the email form. Again, focus on leaving detailed instructions for the customer to provide their comments and ratings of their stay. While design and message can vary, keep your instructions straightforward like below:
How to Leave Your Feedback:
- On your computer or mobile device, open Google Maps and make sure you're signed into your Google account.
- Search for [My Company] and click on the pin in the map area.
- On the card that appears to the left, click "Write a Review" (at the bottom).
- In the window that appears, click the stars to score the place. If you want, you can also write a review.
Creating a Simple Software Solution
To take your efforts a step further, you can even create a simple custom software solution that can help drive reviews from your customers. For example, a custom web plugin can optimize a user's process by allowing them to review your business directly within an email form or social media message that then automatically publishes positive reviews to Google and filters negative reviews to various teams to be dealt with internally. Any web application development company can quickly and efficiently help your business create and launch these types of tools that come in handy when trying to elicit reviews from less technically savvy customers.
One More Item to Remember
Customer reviews not only help potential customers find your business but also can be used to help improve your operations. Remember to have an employee dedicated to not only managing and responding to customer reviews (when necessary), but also providing these insights to the appropriate team in an effort to improve your organization.