If the best way to retain existing customers is to give them exceptional service, what would be the best way for a workshop to attract new customers? Same answer.
Exceptional customer service is, without question, the main driver of new customers to anybody’s door and word of mouth is, and always will be, the best possible way of spreading the word about that exceptional customer service.
State of the Nation 2021 found that 78% of workshops rely on word of mouth to promote their business. For thousands of years, humans have relied on word of mouth for all types of information. Back in BC (that’s before computerisation), the only way to communicate anything was through word of mouth.
OK, so the digital age has provided some interesting new ways to tell stories, but the basics have not changed. And for those in business, the game changer that gave storytelling a much sharper edge is the online review platform. For those who remain unconvinced, consider these recent statistics published by Forbes magazine:
- 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
- 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
- Responding to reviews is as important as ever, with 30% of respondents naming this as very important when judging local businesses.
How to get reviews
Assuming your business is indeed providing genuinely great customer service, the next strategy to adopt is to actively ask your customers to review the business. Surprisingly, only 27% of workshops currently encourage customers to leave online reviews. Requesting a review is not as demeaning as it once was, because technology has made it much easier to post reviews and reviews have become a commonplace measure of popularity.
Your business can do a lot more to generate good reviews, such as:
- Set up a tablet in the waiting room, dedicated for customer feedback and reviews.
- Run competitions with prizes for positive reviews and social media ‘likes’.
- Leave business cards or flyers on the front passenger seat of the customer’s car, prompting reviews.
- Send out a thank you letter, email or SMS suggesting that a review of the customer’s last workshop experience would be appreciated.
How to respond to negative reviews
Remember the lines made famous by Abraham Lincoln, ‘You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all the people all of the time’. These words often haunt business owners who find it difficult to deal with negative reviews. Indeed, many workshop owners convince themselves that’s it better to be invisible than to have a negative review. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way. Customers will review you whether you like it or not. If you do get a negative review, consider taking these actions:
- Respond promptly.
- Write like a person, not a corporation.
- Correct inaccuracies.
- Be real and admit if you have made a mistake.
- Don’t try to delete the post.
Show off your reviews
Once your online reviews start to build, they will become very visible to prospective customers via platforms such as Google and Facebook. You can capitalise on this by linking or embedding the review feed into your own website. It is important that you respond to reviews; social media is a public forum and there is expectation of a response. While this is especially important if a customer complains, all comments should be acknowledged and responded to, as it shows appreciation and active engagement.
Market intelligence suggests that your review feed is more likely to be read than everything else on your website. So don’t pretend that online reviews don’t impact your business. They will, whether you like it or not, so just embrace the technology and start using it to attract new customers to your workshop.