Some great specific tips for getting great online reviews.

Last week we published an article where John Gonzales asked the question “How is your online reputation?”  This week he provides some solid tips for generating positive reviews. I suppose you could simply hope someone takes the time to write one.  But, as we all know, “Hope is not a strategy,” and a sound, comprehensive strategy is needed to create (or rebuild) a favorable online reputation.   Companies like Sage Age Strategies specialize in this type of marketing and positioning.  They have the experience and expertise to develop a thorough action plan for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Online Reputation Management (ORM) something I have witnessed firsthand.

According to William McClain part of the Sage Age team, there are several fundamental steps to begin the process:

  • Be “Review Worthy” — Make sure your community, i.e. your people and your services, are of a high quality that will motivate favorable word of mouth and online reviews. Remember, “Your brand walks on two legs”, meaning that all the people who represent your brand to residents, families, referral sources and prospects are at the epicenter of your brand and can make or break your community’s reputation with customers – these days at the touch of a keypad.
  • Encourage Online Reviews – Once you’re confident that your community is ‘review ready’, do everything you can to encourage online reviews. Let your customers know that their impressions are genuinely important to you and provide them with helpful materials — e.g. a list of online review websites and simple instructions for writing a review — that make it easy for them to post their thoughts. (If you sense hesitancy or concerns on the part of your customer, you can also use this interaction as an opportunity for service recovery to rectify any problems or issues they may have. Better to deal with it directly in real time than to read it online at a later date.)
  • Spread the Good News! – When you receive favorable online reviews, spread the word! Post them on your website and highlight them across your entire social media platform. Positive reviews are like gold in today’s senior living marketplace so “mine” them to full advantage.
  • Remain Vigilant – Managing your online reputation is part of the “price of admission” in today’s electronic marketplace. Remember, no organization is perfect, and while the majority of reviews are positive, it is inevitable that some customers will have concerns or complaints.

When you identify a negative public comment, it is vital to respond quickly and to engage the unhappy customer directly if possible. Never ignore complaints or negative reviews in the hopes they will just go away. They won’t! But with the right “service recovery” activities, you can sometimes turn lemons into lemonade, resulting in the disgruntled reviewer updating their comments to reflect their satisfaction with your follow up response. I recently participated in a project to improve the Google ranking for a very upscale independent and assisted living community by soliciting positive reviews from residents and family members. The community went from invisible to page 1 in the span of weeks.  Moreover, the search results showed a 4.7 out of 5 star rating because of these efforts.  But here’s the best part, in the subsequent weeks, we received a large number of inquiries and tours who commented, “We found you online.”   Yes, yes they did, and they found what people were saying about us online, too.  

And that’s my bottom line: managing your online reputation, in today’s new technology-driven world will drive increased inquiries.  90% of consumers are looking at you right now…what do they see?

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