"We don't feel that our [client/customer/parent/patient] will welcome the invitation."
Well, we have an answer for this, and it's quite simple:
"If you don't ask, your competitors will."
Harrods - notoriously the 'posh people's store' - doesn't seem to have a problem engaging with its customers through reviews!
Here are two anecdotes that hopefully illustrate the point we are trying to make:
The 7* Mayfair Hotel*
Their social media manager told us that their customers would never write reviews because they never booked for themselves, their PA of their EA handled that sort of thing. On top of that every guest was checked out individually in-room, so any issues of a negative nature would be managed at that point.
A glance at TripAdvisor revealed that the hotel in question had received over 150 reviews in the previous 12 months (must be those PAs and EAs) of which 16% were one or two star. On Google there were over 60 reviews with a similar proportion of negatives, with the crucial 'room' category scoring under 4.
The hotel may have been too 'posh' to ask its guests to comment, but their guests - especially the less delighted ones - weren't too 'posh' to post reviews.
*OK, we know that strictly speaking there's no such thing, but some of the high-end establishments are starting to use this description when attempting to differentiate themselves from 'standard 5*'.
The West End estate agency
A great agency - with a great portfolio of landlords and tenants (always a great resource for reviews: landlords for quality, tenants for numbers) as well as the sales side. We are in a meeting with the lettings manager and she says "I don't know that my clients will welcome an email asking them for a review" when the owner of the agency, who has been working with us for some weeks, walks past and overhears her comment. He says...
"On the contrary, I was on the phone to a very wealthy client yesterday who said that he would have been positively offended if he had not been asked to write a review."
It's not who you ask but how you ask
We are not talking about one of those 'it will only take you 12 minutes to complete' surveys here (we are amazed businesses persist in using them; we know that marketing departments thrive on feedback and statistics, but asking customers to complete those surveys skews the results from outset).
What are we talking about?
A simple email or SMS with a link embedded:
'Dear Customer, Please tell us what you thought of [our service] by clicking here.'
Resist the temptation to dress the email up, it won't increase response. And definitely don't apologise for asking.
An estate agency in a pretty 'posh' part of London - before and after becoming a client, and learning how to 'push' with - and to - great effect, we are sure you will agree
What will increase response, without alienating or offending your customers?
- warning your customer that they will be asked
- incentivising and rewarding your staff
- making contact with your customer to reinforce the email
Try it. We guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.