So - what's to learn for other businesses? The main thing for us is that this is a business built on reviews.
AirBnB understood - from the very beginning - that making reviews front-and-centre would drive business for their hosts
From the start the guys at AirBnB realised that intelligent use of reviews was going to be important for them. More than important - core.
- Reviews - which are mandatory in both directions - give users the confidence to book. You might find reviews for a hotel on TripAdvisor or Booking.com useful, but only about one in a thousand guests leaves one on those platforms. On AirBnB it's well-nigh 100%.
- Reviews give hosts the confidence to accept bookings, knowing they will be able to see previous hosts' experience with the guests.
So: lessons for other businesses?
Make reviews as 'mandatory' as you possibly can. There are many ways of doing this without alienating customers.
1. Explain, right at the beginning of the transaction, that it is company policy to ask all customers for a review once the transaction is complete.
2. Explain, also, that this is entirely at the customer's discretion, but emphasise just how helpful such reviews are for a) future customers and b) the business and all its staff.
3. Discuss the way the customer found you - if that included reading reviews (or personal recommendation) then you will be half way to getting a review.
This button - 'Leave A Review' - is prominently displayed next to all of our clients' reviews. Alongside the reviews themselves it provides crucial reassurance to anyone reading them that any customer can leave a review at any time. And consumers love transparent businesses.
4. Explain that any customer can - at any time - go to your website and write a review. This is one of the most popular aspects of review management with consumers - because it reassures them that the business is obliged to accept every customer's opinion.
So - some questions for your business...
- Do you have 100 reviews - independently verified - on your own website? If not, why not?
- Do you have at least 50 reviews on Google? If not, why not?
- If you do have reviews, were those reviews acquired compliantly? Or did you just invite selected customers to write them (that's illegal, by the way)?
These may look a tad harsh, but, as we all know, the business world is harsh. As professional review managers of many years' standing we know why so many businesses are unable to answer 'yes' to these questions - because they are, understandably, concerned that they will attract misleading or factually inaccurate reviews.
But fear not. That's why HelpHound exists, to provide moderation and verification - ensuring that our clients' businesses are fairly reflected in their reviews, like this...
Over 500 reviews on their own website and nearly 300 on Google
...and this was a business with two reviews on Google when they joined!
HelpHound is here to give businesses like yours the confidence to engage with reviews.