By Rebecca Derdoski
Theres no denying online reviews of your self-storage business are extremely important. Not only do they help with local search engine optimization (SEO), but data shows consumers trust reviews when making decisions on which products to buy. This means your potential tenants are using online reviews when deciding at which storage facility to rent.
Plus, the importance of what people say about you online is on the rise. In fact, 52 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. And why shouldnt they? Which would you be more likely to believe, an advertising campaign directly from the company or a recommendation from another customer?
Today, customers are in more control than ever before, and self-storage operators who recognize this change and adapt their marketing strategies accordingly will stay ahead of the competition and build valuable relationships. These relationships are key to customer retention, and customer retention is key to positive reviews online.
You first need to provide excellent, personalized customer service and a positive experience for your tenants. Its a lot easier to ask for a review from someone whos impressed by your service, and rave reviews are what youre after. Here are five strategies to increase your online customer reviews.
1. Ask Your Customers!
It often seems intimidating to ask customers to leave a review, but the key is to be polite and know what to say. Create a general transcript to follow so everyone is comfortable when asking tenants for a review.
One effective approach is telling tenants why reviews are important to your business. Explain why their opinions and experience are important and how they can help you improve your customer experience, build relationships and even help other customers decide if your facility is the right fit for them.
The best (and easiest) time to ask for a review is when a customer expresses praise or compliments your business. A satisfied customer is usually more than willing to write up a recommendation and post it online.
2. Make it Easy
Making the process of leaving reviews as easy as possible is the most effective and important way to increase participation. It should require minimal effort for your customer to leave one. Consider the following:
- Provide your tenants clear, step-by-step instructions for leaving a review about your facility.
- All employee e-mail signatures should include links to your online profiles that allow reviews. Not everyone has a Google account or is familiar with Yelp. By offering several options, you allow the customer to choose a site with which theyre familiar.
- Consider including links on your website, invoices and business cards. You can also create fliers to put out at the front desk. Be creative!
3. Be Quick
People are much more likely to provide feedback when the experience is fresh in their minds. Asking for a review right away gives you a much higher rate of success. In fact, a study by CustomerLobby.com, a firm that helps companies solicit and publish customer feedback, found customer-card reviews solicited at the time of service saw completion rates of 80 percent to 90 percent.
4. Encourage Reviews
Send friendly reminders to happy customers encouraging reviews. Create a landing page on your website that links directly to your profiles on the top review sites such as Yelp and Google+, and include a form where customers can leave unsolicited reviews. When a new tenant signs a lease, send a follow-up e-mail three or four days later asking if hes happy with the service, and then provide instructions on how to write a review.
5. Monitor and Engage
Its crucial to monitor what people are saying about your brand online. Obviously, responding to negative reviews is extremely important, but its equally important to respond and engage with customers who write positive things about you.
This is where you have the opportunity to build relationships and a base of loyal customers. It can be as simple as saying thank you, expressing appreciation for their kind words and continued business. That kind of customer service and experience with a company can go a long way.
Dont Get Left Behind
The value of reviews is growing, and the numbers show that not only do consumers trust reviews, theyre more likely than ever to use a local business that receives positive reviewsonline and offline. As consumers become more familiar with online reviews, theyll continue to place more value and trust in them.
By following the ideas outlined above, youll create an effective starting point to generating positive comments and reviews about your self-storage business. Remember, its all about your customers. If youre providing a positive experience, theyll gladly write a positive comment for you. The key is to ask, then make it as simple as possible.
Rebecca Derdoski is a search engine marketer for EZ Storage, which operates 14 locations nationwide. Her expertise spans search engine optimization, paid search and social media. Her experience within the self-storage industry has helped her create unique marketing approaches to other clients in niche industries. For more information, visit www.ezmini.com.