Online reviews can make or break you. Think about that for a moment, because it’s important that you grasp the significance of that fact. Your marina can have an amazing website, a great article in a boating publication, and advertisements running every week—but if your online customer feedback is negative, your business is going to take a hit. That’s the reality. And this is what you need to do about it—pay attention, respond to every review (both positive and negative), address any problems head-on, and ultimately, take control of your online reputation. Here are some crucial pointers that can help.
1. Register Your Marina on Review Sites or Claim Existing Page
You can’t receive glowing reviews when guests can’t easily find your business on common review sites. So, here is your first step: Gain Visibility. Concentrate on influential social sites like Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, andMarinas.com. If your marina isn’t listed yet, add it. We’ve even made it easy for you—just click each link above, and it will take you to that site’s business page. If you ARE listed but you haven’t claimed the listing yet, do it asap. Once you “own” the page, you can respond to reviews, add photos, provide details and control what your potential guests will see.
Remember that customers also use social media favorites like Facebook to post reviews — so staying on top of your marina’s social media page is a must, as well.
2. Appreciate the Likers/Win Over the Haters
Earning positive online feedback is fantastic for your business—and it’s important to acknowledge each review with a sincere, personalized thank you. Guests who enjoyed their experience are an asset you don’t want to take for granted, so let them know you truly appreciate their business. If they lavish praise on specific features/services, such as friendly customer service, knowledgeable workers or an excellent location, be sure to mention those particulars in your reply.
Now let’s talk about negative reviews. New York Times best-selling author Jay Baer’s “Hug Your Haters” has some great insight about the importance of taking this feedback seriously. Especially when it comes to noting the difference between your perception of customer service and the reality. According to his keynote data, “80% of companies said they deliver superior customer service,” yet a mere 8% of customers agreed. What you can take from that nugget of information is this: you may be missing something—and your customers can and will point it out…often in a public forum. Mr. Baer also reminds us about the weight these reviews carry. They can shape the way “onlookers perceive your business.” The good news is you have the power to reshape perception through the right responses.
As you read and reply, look at every negative comment as an opportunity to make a meaningful impression. Be sure to address the person respectfully, apologize with sincerity, and assure him/her that you’re looking into the problem. If the situation warrants it, be prepared to make amends. The commenter could very well update the review and rating by letting others know how you rectified the problem (i.e. offering a week’s discount on docking fees).
Remember that not every marina takes the time to focus on this crucial aspect of customer service. And when you do, you’re essentially showing customers that you care more about their satisfaction than your competition.
3. Timing Is Everything
Aim to respond to reviews within 24 hours. Or at most, 48 hours. We know it can be time consuming but it is do-able. If you need help managing customer feedback, there is software available that can make it easier. Companies like BirdEye and Podium can help by monitoring multiple review sites, letting you know when new reviews are posted, and more.
4. Use the Right Tone & Proofread
When it comes to replying to feedback, the secret to success is authenticity—be professional but also be real. Scripted answers are impersonal, and let’s face it—just plain lazy. Humanize your responses, projecting a friendly and heartfelt tone across the board. Your sincerity will be noticed and appreciated. Also, proofread before hitting that post button—misspellings and poor grammar don’t reflect well on your business. P.S. There’s no need to hire someone with a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing… simply make sure your reply is error-free and readable.
Sample response to positive review regarding knowledgeable marina workers:
It’s wonderful to hear what a great experience you had at our marina and couldn’t be happier that our staff was so helpful to you. We’ll be sure to share your compliments with them. We look forward to seeing you on your next visit!
All the best, ___, Marina Manager.
Sample response to negative review regarding general marina issues:
I am so sorry to hear about the problems you had at our Marina. We pride ourselves on great customer service and promise you we are looking into the matter. Please call me at 1-XXX-XXX-XXXX to give us the opportunity to rectify this situation.
Thank you, __, Marina Manager.
5. Tackle the Problems Head-on
To repair or enhance your online reputation, you need to do more than simply respond appropriately to reviews—you need to practice what you preach. Take all of the comments to heart and if there’s a problem (especially a topic that is consistently mentioned), fix it. If you need more information, ask the reviewer to call or email you directly so you can understand what went wrong and how you can ensure it doesn’t happen again in the future. If the issue is a serious grievance, make amends that properly reconcile the situation.
Have you been paying attention to your online reviews? Do you feel they play a part in attracting business to your marina? Let us know!