If you’re in the mood to try out a new restaurant, where do you begin your search to find the perfect dinner spot? Chances are, you do a quick online search for “best restaurant near me” and start vetting your options based on a restaurant’s number of online reviews, star rating and customer feedback. As you narrow your search, do you weed out restaurants with zero reviews? How about restaurants with less than three stars? Consumers follow this same process when they begin their search for a “funeral home near me.”
Online reviews matter. Period. According to BrightLocal’s most recent Local Consumer Review Survey, more consumers are reading online reviews than ever before—98% of people at least ‘occasionally’ read online reviews for local businesses. The same study revealed that 67% of consumers will consider leaving a review for a positive experience, while 40% will consider leaving a review for a negative experience.
With more consumers reviewing and vetting your funeral home’s services online, you need to ensure your firm’s online review reputation paints an accurate picture that motivates consumers to choose you over your competitors. And once you receive a review, you need to know how to act on it. Keep reading to discover how to reap the most benefits from your funeral home’s online reviews, including:
- How—and where—to respond to online reviews.
- How to ask for referrals.
- How to share your reviews on your funeral home’s social media channels.
- How to publish reviews on your website.
- How to highlight reviews in community presentations.
Tip 1: Respond to Online Reviews
Before you can respond to online reviews, you need to make sure your funeral home has profiles set up on the top review sites, which include Google, Yelp and Facebook. The majority (88%) of all online reviews come from these three review platforms, as well as Tripadvisor, meaning if your firm is not focusing on these sites, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with more consumers.
So, what do you do once you receive an online review from a customer? The first step is to respond to their review—whether it’s positive or negative—within one to two business days to say thank you and provide any additional response needed. Responding to reviews can reap additional benefits for your firm. According to HubSpot, 64% of consumers would prefer to buy from a company that is responsive to reviews over one that appears perfect.
When responding to a positive online review, try using this three-step process:
- Thank and acknowledge your customer.
- Show your appreciation.
- Provide additional value.
1. Thank and Acknowledge Your Customer
Thank your customer for leaving your funeral home a positive review. Try to personalize each response you provide because it gives you the opportunity to showcase your firm’s level of service and professionalism, and it helps potential customers get a feel for if your funeral home is right for them.
2. Show Your Appreciation
Emphasize how much you appreciate your customer. It’s one thing to say, “thank you for leaving a review,” but take your response a step further by expressing your gratitude and explaining why you’re grateful for their review and your experience serving them.
3. Provide Additional Value
Any time you can provide additional value to your customers, do it; offer relevant resources or next steps so they can continue having a positive relationship with your funeral home. Going the extra mile, even when responding to online reviews, can help you increase your funeral home's online visibility and awareness in your community.
If your funeral home receives a negative online review, try using this five-step process:
- Assess the situation.
- Keep your reply short.
- Own up to your mistake.
- Thank them for their feedback and offer a solution.
- Continue the conversation offline if necessary.
1. Assess the Situation
When you receive a negative review, don’t panic! Give yourself time to assess the situation and calm down. Responding to the review in the heat of the moment may result in a response you’ll regret later. As you assess the situation, decide if the review is real. If it’s fake or violates the review platform’s guidelines, you can submit a request to remove the online review.
- How to remove reviews from your Business Profile on Google (Google Business Profile Help)
- How do I report a review? (Yelp Support Center)
- Report a Recommendation or review about a business Page on Facebook (Facebook Help Center)
2. Keep Your Reply Short
As you draft your response, remember to keep your reply short and to the point. The individual who left the negative review isn’t the only one who will read your response; remember, it will be visible to anyone who finds your review profile.
3. Own Up to Your Mistake
Even if the mistake isn’t your fault, taking responsibility for the mistake will go a lot further in the eyes of the customer who left the negative review and potential consumers who will read the review and your response. According to Sitejabber, a personalized review response can bring back 51% of customers who’ve had a negative experience, so there’s still an opportunity to make amends with the unhappy customer.
4. Thank Them for Their Feedback and Offer a Solution
A negative review is free feedback for your funeral home. Use this customer’s negative review as an opportunity to improve your services for future customers. Thank the customer for their feedback and offer a solution to make amends when possible.
5. Continue the Conversation Offline If Necessary
Giving the customer your contact information and following up with them offline is a great way to show that you take their feedback seriously and want to solve their problem.
Tip 2: Ask for Referrals
Responding to your funeral home’s online reviews is a productive first step, but there are more ways to lean on these reviewers to help grow your firm’s reach in your community. One way is to ask for referrals. If a customer felt comfortable enough to leave your funeral home a glowing review, they may also be open to referring family members or friends.
Tip 3: Share Your Reviews on Social Media
Online reviews draw a lot of attention for businesses, and you can increase the visibility these reviews receive by sharing them on your funeral home’s social media channels. Doing so can help to establish trust among your social audiences, accelerate the prearrangement process and set the right expectations.
Before sharing a customer’s review on your social media channels, make sure you get their permission to use their review. Simple examples of sharing reviews on social media include creating a single post with a unique graphic and turning that post into a social media ad. Other examples include collaborating with your customer to record an interview or video testimonial.
Tip 4: Publish Reviews on Your Website
Another benefit you can reap from your online reviews is displaying them on your website. This tactic helps to establish your funeral home’s credibility among existing and potential customers who visit your website.
Tip 5: Highlight Reviews in Community Presentations
If your funeral home hosts community presentations throughout the year, your presentation deck is a great place to share customer reviews. Like in the previous tips, including customer testimonials in your presentation can help to build trust and credibility with those in attendance. These reviews can also give you cues to share those customers’ stories and how your funeral home was able to help them plan their funeral or a family member’s.
Never underestimate the power of online reviews. They can make or break your funeral home’s reputation. By taking a proactive approach to responding to online reviews and using them in your marketing efforts, you can increase your firm’s online visibility and reach in your community. To learn more about strengthening your firm’s online review reputation, contact your Homesteaders account executive.