In this episode, I’m going to share with you my strategy on how to deal with online reviews: how to get nasty ones removed (or at least not look as bad) and how to get a steady stream of positive reviews…
In this video:
00:53 – How did you feel when you get a negative review?
02:44 – Is the complaint legitimate
05:35 – The Olive Branch Approach
06:49 – Cultivating positive reviews
08:41 – Why client families with Gmail accounts are great for leaving online reviews
10:25 – Your After Care Specialist can generate the best online reviews
11:39 – Don’t have people leave you online reviews from your office computers
12:56 – Check out the Funeral Bootcamp brochures – they are awesome!
15:17 – How to get your free Local SEO Audit report
17:15 – Your challenge – get one positive online review from someone that you have served in the last 6 months
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“…Always respond to negative reviews using the Olive Branch approach.” – Hepp – Click To Tweet
“…Does your After Care program cultivate positive online reviews? – If not, it should!” – Hepp – Click To Tweet
Welcome to another episode of the Funeral Strategy and Marketing show. Before I dive into today’s topic, I want to let you know to stick around to the end of the episode, because I have a special gift for you. What it is, is a free resource that I created called the revenue per call calculator. It’s an Excel spreadsheet that you can use to track the additional revenue you would get by getting additional calls or maybe how much you might be losing in revenue if you lose calls.
It’s a handy little spreadsheet that you can use and play around with and maybe think of for, if you’re able to gain 10 percent market share, how is that going to relate to your business from a financial perspective.
Let’s get into today’s topic. How did it feel the first time that you saw that you had a negative review? Were you mad? Did you get sad? Probably not, you were probably really mad.
Most of the time, these are not legitimate. There’s just some jerk out there that feels that they’ve got to try to take a shot at you, maybe it’s even a competitor. But, you know what? We’ve got some strategies that I’m going to share with you today that will put you in the driver’s seat for dealing with negative reviews that happen and also to prevent negative reviews from coming onto your profiles.
Recently, on Facebook, I was asked by a friend of mine, Kim Stacy, on how to deal with negative reviews. I’m sharing some of my experiences, as I’ve mentioned before. I’ve had a couple opportunities to help people, get funeral homes get negative reviews taken off of places like Yelp and Google Reviews.
The first thing that, let’s just take one step back. I’ve heard some bad advice out there. Now, my last episode was hearing opinions and talking about opinions and advice. There is some bad advice. People are saying, “Don’t respond to a negative review because if you do, that will actually make that review more popular and come up towards the top.”
If that’s the case or not, I don’t know. But even if it is, I’d rather have a negative review that is responded to than having a negative review with no response. That is way worse. If we go through the process that we’re going to talk about today, you’re going to look so much better than the person leaving the negative review.
OK, the first step. Ask yourself, is it a legitimate complaint? If it is, then you’ve got to clean up some stuff at the office. What happened? Dig into it, find out. Were you having a bad day? Was a staff member having a bad day?
If it was a process that was an oversight, then maybe put a system into place that prevents that from happening again. You have some more checks and balances.
If it was legitimate, then I would reach out to the person, try to phone them offline and let them know, say, “Thank you for letting me know about this. We’ve taken these steps to rectify it. Is there anything else that we could do to make this better?”
Once you’ve done that, you can then go onto the review site and actually, kind of as a follow up, say, “Thank you so much for talking to me on the phone. Thank you for explaining the situation further. We have done these steps so that this won’t happen again.” For all the people that are watching, they’re going to see that you’re taking a very proactive approach to anytime that something happens like this.
What if it’s not a legitimate complaint? What if it’s your competitor down the street that’s paying someone to leave that or something? I’m not saying that that happens, but we think that that’s what happens. But what if it’s just some jerk trying to bring you down?
Here’s what you do. You still want to reach out to them and take it as a specific legitimate complaint, but ask a couple of probing questions, such as, find out when the service was or even for who the service was for. When you do this, people are going to see that you’re actually trying to solve the problem.
It goes back to people saying, “Don’t respond to it,” because people are, yes, they are going to read the negative review, but they’re also going to read your response. If your response is very professional and you’re not flying off the handle, that’s going to even be more credit to you if you’ve gone and tried to solve the problem.
A couple things that are going to happen here is, more than likely, they’re not going to respond. If you’re being nice, it’s really hard for them to be angry again, if they are real jerks. They might, and if they do, you just respond in a very polite manner again, say that you’re doing everything you can to try to resolve that. You would hope that they would meet you kind of halfway, or meet you in trying to resolve the issue.
This is why I like to call this the olive branch approach, because you’re kind of extending the olive branch here.
More than likely, though, they’re not going to respond. After a week or so if they don’t respond, you can then contact, whether it’s Yelp or Google or whoever and say, “There’s been this review on your website about our company and we take this really seriously. We’ve tried to reach out to the person and try to rectify the issue, and they are not responding. Also, it seems that there could be a little bit of hearsay in there or second hand information. I believe that’s against your terms of service. Could you please check into that for me?”
Both times that I’ve been involved in this process, one line that the person who’s flying off the handle puts in there that actually makes their complaint outside of their terms of service, the website’s terms of service, and they’ll delete. Both times we’ve had them deleted, but you can’t just ask them to delete it. You have to go through this process. It might take a week or two, but it’s well worth it.
Then what you should do so that this doesn’t happen again is have a proactive approach. What I like to do is let clients know that first of all, just go back in the last year or so to all the raving fans that you’ve had, the people that have sent you those awesome thank you cards. I know that you probably have a shoebox full of them. Hopefully you’re displaying them or even scanning them and putting them on your website if you get the family’s permission.
But what you should also do is then get those cards, and if it’s someone who’s web savvy, type out their response and email it to them and just say, “I really appreciate this great thank you card that you sent to us. We’re honored to help your family at a very tough time. If you could just do me a small favor and share the same words or similar words to one of the online review sites. A lot of people look for those when they’re looking for a funeral home. We would like to serve more families like yours.”
Especially if you know someone quite well, they’re probably going to do it. They just need to be asked. You have to remember. You’ve helped them out at the toughest time of their lives. They probably will take the five minutes to do this.
The next thing that you want to do is have a page on your website dedicated to this. You could put a link to all the different websites that link right to your profile, so you make it really easy for people to do that.
If for some reason one of those websites has a couple of negative reviews, you may not want that on there at the beginning. But if you have maybe a close friend, you could just say, “Hey, could you go put one on here? We’ve got some negative ones and they’re stuck there. We’ve tried to get them removed, but they can’t. But send them to other ones, especially Google Plus, your Google Plus page or Yelp. People will do this. They’ll take the five minutes to do it. Hopefully you’re taking down clients email addresses. Find any that are Gmail addresses and send it to them, because then that means that they don’t need to create an account to leave one on Google. It’s a little secret tip there, actually, not too secret but a little shortcut.
Then what you should do is on a proactive basis, every time you have a card of thanks come in like that, you do the same. Send out a little email and have it have their part, what they wrote typed up. Obviously, leave out the part that also submitted in the card is the final balance of the payment. You don’t need to put that in there. Then send that email to the link to the page or if they have a Gmail account, you can just send them specifically right to the Gmail account.
For those of you who have an aftercare program in place and everyone should, because you can just put out so many little fires that I’ve found. I’ve worked with a lot of people in aftercare. I’ve organized and created the aftercare program at McCall Brothers. It is now one of their best programs that they have there. They’ve got a great staff, but the icing on the cake is Audrey, who is their aftercare specialist.
What you should do then is have your Audrey or your aftercare person, when they’re sitting down with the families after the service, ask them or they’re going to know if someone’s ecstatic about everything. If the person seems to be kind of web savvy, like maybe their checking iPhone and that type of thing right there, or they brought in their iPad. Just say, “Hey, would you mind taking a few minutes and doing this?” Kind of going through the same process as I’ve explained for the people who send in the cards.
Because right then when they’re so happy and they’ve just said, “Oh, everything that you did was so great.” Don’t do it in the first two minutes, but maybe halfway through the appointment just bring it up. Just say, “Oh, you know one thing that we ask, especially people who are so pleased with what we’ve done, if you could just take five minutes to leave a nice online review for us. Here’s their web page.”
If they have their iPhone, they could do it right there. You could even just have a QR code that they can scan or just type in the web address. Then they can click on the links from your website and they can fill out right there.
A word of warning is don’t have them log in on your computer. If they’re there and they have to log in, if Google sees that all these reviews are coming from the same IP address, they’re going to think it’s a little fishy, so don’t do that. But nowadays, the people who I would approach are the people walking around with their iPhones or Androids or iPads. Just ask them if they would do that.
That’s a real proactive way of making sure that negative reviews don’t harm you. Because what’ll happen is, if someone’s being a real jerk and they want to give you a negative review, and if they go to a place where there’s 20 positive reviews, and they’re all four out of five stars or five out of five stars, they’re going to look like a real idiot trying to give you a one or a zero or whatever. That’s just something to keep in mind. It’s just the way it is. Whether you want to participate in this or not, it’s going to happen. There’s going to be online reviews, and as Google is continually changing their algorithm of how websites rank, online reviews are playing more and more of a factor.
I just want to share with you a couple things that have been happening here at Funeral Futurist. It’s been a busy summer. Getting ready just next month, we’ve got our funeral boot camp. We’ve got the brochures. They’ve been mailed out. We mailed them to funeral homes in Ohio and the border states around Ohio, since it is going to be in Cleveland.
We’re also getting, ramping up for funeral rock stars two in November at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, and also getting ready for NFDA in Austin in October. It’s going to be busy fall and we’re really looking forward to it.
Another thing that we’ve been doing, we’ve launched three now, three cremation arrangement websites. The great thing about these is that they’re very easy to use. What we do is we try to get the payment first and then get them to fill in the form second, because it’s better to get the cash in and have them make that commitment and then have them go into filling out the forms and authorizing the documentation and that type of thing.
The other thing is that all of our sites are mobile responsive, meaning that they work, they fully function from your computer to your laptop to your iPad to your phone. If you’re interested in those, just shoot me an email and I can give you some more information on that.
If you have any questions that are just burning about strategy, competitions, marketing, leave them here. Leave a comment and ask a question or send me an email at [email protected] and I’d be glad to answer them. I can answer them privately or even answer them right here on the show.
If you have a comment, too, I’ll read the comment out and give you a little plug, and a little link back to your funeral home’s website. Links, although they’re not as important as they used to be, they still are very important. Getting a link from my site is going to be of benefit to you and just a little other tick in your favor for getting you up in rankings.
Another resource that I want to share with you is you may have seen some of our banner ads, but we are now offering what we call our “local SEO audit.” I’ll leave a link in the show notes of how you can get that for free. We normally charge $50 for this, but what we do is we create a 14 page, 15 page report. It shows a lot of the elements of the different ranking factors that are affecting your website.
Some on site factors, meaning how your website is built, but mostly off site factors, it’s going to talk about links. It’s going to talk about local listings and things like this that you need for the online reviews and what they call “citations” online. You want to build that up and this report shows you what to do. A lot of things you can just do on your own. It’s not just a sales pitch or anything like that. It’s a good, solid resource for you that you can work away on and improve your overall online presence.
Just as we wrap up here, when you’re talking about online reviews, when you get a negative one, three things. first of all, investigate it to see if it is legitimate. If it is, solve it.
Next, you want to go with the olive branch approach and respond to them online, always taking the high road, doing it in a very professional manner, because millions of people are watching. They’re watching if you don’t do anything, and they’re also watching what you do. You have more control if you do something. If you’re going to do it, make sure that it’s positive. Third, start a proactive program to cultivate more reviews, especially with your aftercare program.
Just a quick little challenge for you if you do this, leave a little comment. Just go back the last six months. You’ve probably served someone that you’ve known quite well and because you’ve probably above and beyond for them, like what you do for all your client families. Just ask them if they would leave an online review for you. I’d love to know your success and how that went. If you get one, send me a link to where the review was and I’d love to see it.
With that, once again, thanks for spending your time with me today. I really appreciate it. My goal for you is for you to serve more families and provide them more meaning services. That’s what I do with this show and also with my business. I just want to make sure that you can do a better job serving more families.
Make sure you check back soon for another episode of the Funeral Strategy and Marketing show. This is Robin Heppell.
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