New thoughts on reviews... or: New Trick For Old Dog.

The damn things just keep coming up. I don’t like them. My stomach gets twisted just thinking about them. I have to get in a certain frame of mind just to go read them. Even a 3* gets me upset…

I have been speaking with others on the subject. Complaining mostly. We all have reviews that are unfair. Some real doozies out there both that have happened to me and that I have heard about: 1* review from customer who called after closing. The review was for not being open late enough?! 1* review from customer who thought they ordered from someone else and were not told on the phone that they were not talking to the store they thought they called. 1* review from customer who ordered for delivery to a hotel… but turns out they called a town 50 miles away that happens to have the same brand of hotel. Yup. the stories never end.

I posted another thread here on the TT which was mostly blowing off steam. I have also been speaking to other local business owners around my town. We are in a tourist market so many many local businesses deal with this issue. Recently I had a conversation with a neighbor ski rental business. The owner is a young guy I think highly of and he told me something that has changed my thinking 180 degrees. Next step is figuring out the best way to implement. Here is the story:

I was telling him that we get about one review for every 1000 orders. We make mistakes like everyone does and every once in a while really mess up on customer service. We train around it. We empower employees to make unhappy customers happy but we can still get it right 995 times out of 1000, make 5 mistakes and get a stinker of a review out of it.

We all know that we will mess up from time to time. We all know that an unhappy customer is way more likely to talk to friends and more likely to review. My neighbor pointed out that you are going to get some negative reviews as a result. The trick is to make sure you are getting positive reviews from your happy customers to keep things in perspective. Duh!!

I was so focused on avoiding and responding to negative reviews that I was missing the essential solution to this problem! My neighbor said that his solution is that they work very hard to get as many people as possible to review them. Then the fact that they do it right almost every time will come into play and the unavoidable few negative reviews are offset by more good ones.

Good morning captain obvious! I had allowed my visceral reaction to reviews to cloud my eyes to the solution: Get as many positive reviews as possible. We have tons of loyal customers and we deliver thousands of orders where the customer is happy. How do we get more of them to review us?

I do not have an action plan yet but I will soon. Any ideas welcome. What has worked for you to get lots of reviews?

I love that post.

We need to band together on this epidemic. Review sites are seriously taking their toll on my mental health. Im tired of being held hostage by incompetent reviewers. I actually asked a customer to write a review the other day and it truly is the only way around those reviews that hold no credence.

I literally just got off the phone with repeat returns. They have a program, supposedly, that does just what your talking about. I am in the same boat you are, as I am sure everyone is. We never (usually) hear from the hundreds of customers who went home and enjoyed there meal. I will let you know the details of the repeat return program when I get them, if anyone is interested.

Deck is obviously stacked against us as far as reviews are concerned, the ridiculous eye rollers don’t bother me too much because I presume most people are smart enough to realize that isn’t a reflection on our business or our food. I have one dude that loves us and orders weekly but he only left a 4 star on Trip Adviser… I almost want to ask him what would it take to get a 5 star but I haven’t and I don’t think I will. 4 stars is pretty good. I used to be a 4 star guy until I realized if I liked something i needed to 5 star it to make up for all the idiots that 1 starred it for no reason.

Anyway, I read about the one guy that solicits negative reviews (basically 1 star ratings but the reviews are good) and yelp even told him to knock it off or they’d remove his listing and he basically said, ‘Good do it’. and they never did. I’ve knocked around in my head how to solicit reviews without being scandalous about it, I almost don’t want to recognize reviews to customers in fear they’ll know I pay attention to them so if something even remotely negative happens they will run there first before calling me. I dont even talk about reviews with employees for the same reason. I’ve thought of rewarding good reviews somehow from our good repeat customers… problem is if they don’t review often those reviews will get filtered anyway. FB reviews actually are overwhelmingly positive so I am not really concerned with getting good reviews on FB. I really haven’t come up with an answer, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I have a few negative reviews I know for a fact are from competitors and they are so over the top I don’t think they hurt me, but maybe they do? Either way I’d feel better if I had a wall of 30 positive reviews instead of 15 good ones and 3 negatives. Although maybe the foodie craze and the review places are losing steam and not as popular anymore, which is what I always hope is the case.

I think that is exactly how most of us have been thinking about reviews. Myself included. We have all also sought a handful of good reviews from friendly reviewers while avoiding seeking reviews on a broad basis.

The point of my post is that I am now convinced that we have all been looking at this wrong.

  1. There is no avoiding some bad reviews. Justified or not we will get some.
  2. Reviews are a fact of life. They are not going away. Ever.
  3. The solution is to make sure you are getting good ones too and the way to do that is to promote them.
  4. If you are doing a good job for 99% of your customers the numbers will take care of themselves if you can get your happy customers to write reviews.

Yesterday I pulled my online customer data and extracted a list of customers with five or more online orders including order at least two orders in the last 60 days. The list had over 150 customers. I sent an email thanking them for their regular business, offered a one time 40% discount as a thank you (max discount $20). I also asked them to get in touch if we can improve anything and invited them to review us on Yelp, Trip Advisor and Google. It is my hope that out of these customers as least a handful will write a review or two.

I am absolutely talking about reviews with employees. I want them to realize that the things they say and do appear in these places and that I am watching.

I am also going to offer a review bonus of $40 to employees who are recognized by name in any 5* review on Yelp or Trip Advisor.

I am working on an idea to print business cards info about review sites and asking them to contact us if dissatisfied but to please review if happy. Still mulling this over but the main idea is that we nail it almost every time time.

The odds are very much in our favor. I think that if I can get 100 customers to write reviews the overwhelming majority will be positive.

These are all great ideas. Please keep us updated on how they work out. I know some restaurant in my area use many of these strategies. There is a Korean BBQ place that opened recently here, and they had over 500 5 star reviews in less than a month. I noticed in the reviews the customer would mention the name of the server and how great of job they did. This tells us that the server is soliciting the review in some form.

A past employee of mine opened his own pizza place a few years ago. What he did was solicit all his Facebook friends to write a good review. Within a week of opening he had a 100 great reviews and a good jump start to success.

Giving employees $ for reviews in which they are mentioned is clever… but then again they can just solicit everybody on their fb page to write a review for them. Then again… I’d probably still pay for that. :slight_smile: I’ve got 20 reviews in 5 years, 16 are either 4 or 5 stars, 2 1 stars. 1 lady was mad she forgot her coupon and we wouldn’t give her the deal anyway because it was a 1-time super aggressive offer and we knew she already used it, another from a disgruntled cafe owner from down the street who tried to badmouth our wings so he could sell more? I don’t know. neither of those reviews bother me much. Most of the really crappy axe grinding reviews were filtered, of course so have a lot of 5 stars. That’s a pretty good ratio, looking at it now I suppose I’ll stay the course and not make any sort of changes.

I just simply ask my employees to mention to customers who are super happy with us to drop us a line on Google. Turned off FB reviews a while back bc that place is straight up poison for negativity these days.

That is is why I am only offering the reward for reviews on sites other than FB. We have thousands of fans on FB and they like us. Every once in a while a tourist wanders onto our FB page for the most part they are looking at Trip Advisor and Yelp so that is my focus. On the other hand, I hope they do get their friends and housemates etc to give us 5* reviews.

Here’s a good one☆
Disgusting order, even worse service. I ordered a salad pizza and the salad came hot and soggy… the box tilted slightly and water was pouring out of the box. The entire box came apart because it was soaked through. This order was absolutely deplorable. When I called to inquire if I got the right order I was passed to the owner who said “thats how we do it”. No resolution was given to this order, the owner seemed incompetent. Cant speak to the other food, but do not order salad… it was my first time ordering and I will not be back.

[INDENT]She failed to mention how we tried to resolve it. Water coming out the box, seriously. Me made the exact same pizza one night and placed it in a delivery bag and let it set for 20 minutes, pulled it out and box was completely dry. If we tilted the box at a 45° angle, yes the Greek dressing ran, no crap.
She left this review on four sites.
This is the crap we are all tired of.[/INDENT]

Absolutely. Whether the review is result of our own mistakes or is total crap there are going to be some doozies from time to time. We train to avoid making mistakes, we train to resolve the problems when they come up. Mostly we succeed. Far more often than not we get it all right and the customers are happy.

There is no escaping getting some bad reviews no matter how hard we work… the solution is to make sure we get good reviews a lot more often that reflect the times we get it all perfect! I really don’t care much if some of them are from friends of the shop… the main thing is that this is a numbers game. If you are going to get 2-3-4-5 bad reviews in a year would you rather that that was a handful of bad ones out of 15 or the same handful out of 50 or 100?

Here’s two gems from our Facebook page. First one was posted yesterday.

Their delivery range is dumb! I was trying to get get delivery and was only 4.7 miles away witch they said was out of their zone. they need to expand their zone if they can’t deliver to a place that is only 4.7 miles away!! I don’t know about the food cause they don’t deliver more than 4 mile!

–Responded after getting clarification from the Manager on Duty. He thought we cut off at a certain road but it was actually the farm down the road. Same name just a misunderstanding. States he hasn’t tried the food but we got a one star. Responded tell him I was sorry for the misunderstanding and that where he works is in our delivery area. We hope you give us a try in the near future. Well before that response i gave an initial response simply asking him for the address by private message and if it is in the area. I’ll clear up any confusion. Never responded to either.

And a different guy a few months back.

This is the worst pizzas I have had, and that is saying a lot. Gas station pizza is better - they probably spend more time and energy on their product. The pizza was way undercooked. We had to pull the gravel out of our teeth from the unrinsed mushrooms. This is ghetto amateur pizza - period. Way better options in the Mars area.

Fails to mention that was his 10th order in about 6 weeks and never had a complaint before. No previous good reviews about the 9 positive experiences. 1 bad one and he was done. Not only do our mushrooms come in prewashed but we wash them again before cutting… gravel? Come on. Most likely scenario was the employee put breadcrumbs on the pizza after the toppings instead of before the toppings. Both instances were mess ups but could’ve been easily resolved without a review and maybe a little “want” of a resolution by the customer rather than just a vent session.

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More likely he just got hired at the competition or broke up with your phone girl or something.

Ha! Hope not since we hire at 16 and there isn’t really any phone girl over the age of 17… he’s in his 40’s lol.

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