I speak to successful guides who use our Yentna Pro or Flex product on a daily basis. Consistently, these guides will tell me that a top component to their success is getting online reviews from clients because the majority of their competition hasn’t taken the step to list their services online. Essentially they are being handsomely rewarded for making themselves vulnerable to the honest opinion of past clients. Which leads, of course, to a two follow-up questions:
Here are 15 tips from guides who have dozens, if not hundreds of reviews:
Ask for reviews. Very few people will just write a guide or trip review on their own. You have to ask them to do it. If you’re just starting out, aim to get at least five reviews. If you’re new to Yentna or thinking about joining, the good news is every booking you put threw Yentna automatically receives a review request at the very end of the trip. Yes, automatically.
“A big game changer for me was the moment I signed up with Yentna. Since all my bookings and payment are initiated through Yentna now, they know all my trip start times and end times. Yentna automatically sends my clients a review request at the end of every trip while the experience is still fresh and exciting. We tell our clients how much it means to us if they’d fill out the review request. It’s a game changer because it’s already in their email inbox the moment they get off the boat and we’ve verbally asked them to complete it.”
Drop a hint. In your day to day dealings with a client, they will often say things like, “Wow, thanks for teaching me how to setup that salmon rig (or something like that). Not sure I would have figured that out on my own.” What a great opportunity to say, “That would be a perfect quote to put in my online review at the end of our trip!” Even if they don’t use that specific example in the review, dropping those hints helps reinforce the importance of reviews.
Make a personal call to past customers. It’s even harder to ignore a personal phone call. Yes, it takes a little more effort, but even if you don’t get the review, you’ve made contact with a past client — and that’s never a bad idea as it could always turn into new bookings or remind them to get that fall salmon trip on the books before your calendars booked up.
Make reviews part of your daily business. Guides who have the most success getting reviews consider them essential to their businesses marketing, specifically online. They mention reviews (and the process for writing them) to every client. Subsequently, guides who have the most reviews, also happen to make a lot more money and are often turning business away because they are so busy.
“About a year ago, I started putting a heavy focus on getting reviews,” recalled Robert Stoddard, “I saw stats online somewhere showing that people reach out to three, four, five guides at a time, and when consumers see someone with 20 online reviews versus someone with five reviews, it’s an overwhelming indicator to choose the one with more reviews. Often times even if they had talked to a competitor before I could call them back, they’d wait to see if we were available on their preferred dates before committing to the other guide or they’d just book us on our website through Yenta’s online booking software. Then when we spoke during the trip I’d ask how they picked me over other guides and the reason every time is we have far more online reviews and we made it easy for them to schedule and pay by providing it all online. The reviews built the necessary trust to hire us and pay in real time. Reviews haven’t only propelled my success, they’ve made the process less time consuming for both my clients and I”
Incorporate “the ask” into your process. It never ceases to amaze me how often I hear a guide say, “Oh, I just forget to ask for reviews.” Don’t forget (use Yentna it’s automated). Make it a part of your process. You can even include it in your email signature
“I have two strategies for requesting reviews: I cast a wide net to people who are older in my system — who I guided for a while back — and we send a more personal message through text to people who closed in the last month or so,” Stoddard explained. “You have to do both: Casting a wide net gets a rapid response while personal messages get a higher response.”
Use a drip email campaign. People tend to need reminding more than once to write a review. It’s hard to keep bugging people to do it. If you use a drip email system, set up a “request review” campaign and send monthly emails requesting reviews from those who haven’t left them.“It’s important to have a system to track who you’ve done business with and do gentle follow up later. It’s never too late to share your experience about a trip or a guide that delivered a fantastic experience.”
Explain the importance of guide and trip reviews in your business. Yes, asking for a review is a very “narcissistic” thing. But sometimes in business you have to be a little selfish and ask for things. Explaining WHY you’d like an honest review helps people understand the importance of them. “Reviews are an integral part of my online business. You most likely saw my reviews and they probably helped you make a decision to hire me. I’d appreciate it greatly if you would help others do the same by leaving me an honest review.”
Offer examples. For many people, looking at a blank screen and trying to come up with words is extremely difficult. Make it as easy as possible for your clients. While you want the review to reflect the reviewer’s voice and not yours — in other words, don’t write the review for them — you can provide lots of examples of previously written guide reviews, and even include a few sentences that clients can copy and modify. Also, don’t strive to get only five-star reviews: you don’t want any potential clients to question your authenticity. Let your clients know you want their honest and fair opinion about their satisfaction with you and the services you provided, and that it’s OK to give you fewer than five stars.
Mine your database of past clients for those who haven’t written a review. Remember the client you took fishing three years ago whom you haven’t reached out to in forever? Here’s your chance. Forget the awkward, “If you know anyone looking to go fishing, I’d appreciate a referral” notice and instead hit them up with a friendly request for a review. “Hey, Jim and Sally! Long time no talk! Hope you are doing well. I’ve started a new thing in my guide business — online client reviews — and would really appreciate it if you would consider writing one for me.”
“In the Yentna dashboard for guides, you can literally go in there, type in the 25 emails you want to send review requests and it sends the request for you, it’s incredibly easy and a great way to start building your online credibility. I’ve had the most luck following up with the customers right after I send the email by texting them or calling them directly in some cases. I’ve actually ended up getting multiple new bookings with those past clients, just because I reached out and I was now top of mind.”
Invite them into Yentna Social. Your trip photos, reviews, reports, and list of trips with online bookings are all on your Yentna Social profile. Invite your clients in and start building your database in a network that’s not nearly as crowded as Facebook or Twitter.
Post a “review of the week” on your Facebook business page. This appeals to the ego. People like to be recognized and see their “name in lights” so be sure to tag the person who gave you the review in your post. It’s simple to do and helps remind others to write a review for you.
Offer a reward for completing a review. I know what some of you are thinking right now, but this is not “buying” a review. Let’s face it, leaving a review is a bit of a hassle. It takes time. A small token of appreciation— a VISA gift card, a Starbucks card — is not buying a review; it’s thanking someone for their time.
Have a review party. Throw an end-of-the-year “client appreciation party," but make it selective and only invite those who have left reviews.
Hold a monthly drawing for a simple prize. Once a month (or once a quarter), enter everyone who has left you a review into a prize drawing. Again, it doesn’t have to be an elaborate or expensive gift. It’s just an opportunity to remind clients that you’re seeking reviews and offering a reward for their time. Offer something simple that everyone needs — a free carpet cleaning, fruit basket or bottle of wine.
Online Reviews Are Important, but why?
There are countless benefits to having an abundance of customer reviews. This feedback increases trust, drives brand authenticity, and offers you the opportunity to engage with your customers in a very transparent and vulnerable way.
Now that you know customer reviews fuel the growth of your bookings, you need to take action. The biggest difference I see between guides who are booked out for months in advance and guides who are struggling day to day is action. The guides who take deliberate action to lay the ground work online NOW, are the guides that are building the businesses that will be highly profitably now and in the future. There’s a goldmine of potential profit just one button away – get reviews.
So, whether you’re an experienced guide or you’re just getting started, the idea’s listed in this article will put you well on your way to getting positive reviews that resonate with your target audience as well as giving you ideas on how to expose those reviews to new viewers and leverage them for more bookings. To join countless guides joining Yentna everyday to create efficiencies in their business such as review request automation, click here to find out what else we can do to simplify your business. Happy Review Hunting!