Social proof is an endorsement of your service, often made by clients. When clients commend you, compliment you, or rave about how you helped their pet, a positive message is sent to all their friends and contacts, who value the personal, unbiased view of someone they know.
Other ways to show social proof are your qualification and credentials, press coverage and word of mouth. But by far the most powerful social proof comes in the form of testimonials from happy clients, and reviews.
Testimonials are clients’ stories which have been hand selected by the business owner and published in advertising or on your website. The owner of the practice has some control over this form of social proof, as the owner can choose which to share and which not to share. Reviews, on the other hand, allow for no control by the business owner. They have more clout than testimonials because they’re a true, unbiased reflection of the service that the practice offers.
You can get testimonials from your clients either in person or via email. Record them and use them in your marketing material.
There are a few places where you can get reviews of your practice, e.g. Yelp, Facebook and Google. Getting reviews needs to be an active process and part of your practice’s ongoing organizational system.
A few clients will take the time without being prompted to leave a review, but most will need a little nudge. Make it easy for them by sending them an email with the link so that it is not a hassle, but something that is quick and simple to do. In this way you’ll find you actually do have some control – you’ll nudge the clients you know are happy!
Handling Bad Reviews
There are times when practices get fake or bad reviews. It’s important to handle these correctly.
Always respond to customers when they leave a review, whether it is positive or negative. Make your customer feel that you care about them no matter what they have to say about you. It hardly hurts you to answer a negative review with respect and an assurance that you will do what is required to rectify the problem. In fact, a positive response to a bad review will go a long way to establishing the kind of warm, approachable and professional image that you want to convey. It will certainly ameliorate any possible damage done by the bad review.
We all love good reviews. But don’t fear the bad review. Use the bad review to help you build your practice and stand out from your competitors.
Bad reviews give you the advantage of being able to pinpoint exactly where your practice is not delivering. Through hearing the message and responding positively, you may even hear back from the client, enabling you to fine-tune your understanding of what went wrong, and then correct it.
Responding to reviews is an important part of fostering trust and good relationships with your customers. By responding in a heartfelt and thoughtful way, we add a human element to our brand.
Lastly, if you’re lucky enough to be getting loads of reviews, don’t be inclined to scroll past the positive ones and only do damage control on the negative ones. Take the time to appreciate and thank! This is all part of showing professionalism and openness, and nurturing those all-important relationships.