In today’s age of social media, online searches and our dependence on websites, it is critical that we understand the importance of referrals (I used referral, review, testimonial, rating, etc. interchangeably). Nowhere is this more critical than in the wedding industry.
As bridal professionals, we rely on referrals to bring us business. As brides and grooms you rely on referrals to help you pick your wedding day vendors. A good testimonial can match a couple with the perfect wedding professional,
I am simply amazed at how a couple will talk about our reviews and how important they were to helping them choose us, and then not leave a review themselves. Wouldn't you want the next couple to benefit from positive reviews like you did?
Also, I am amazed at how few professionals ask for reviews. If you have done a good job for a couple it is perfectly legitimate for you to ask for, and ask several times, for a favorable review.
I’m going to look at reviews from both the point of view of a Bride and Groom and that of a wedding professional:
- Read reviews about a vendor. If you have a question on one or see a less than flattering review, please feel free to ask the vendor about it. Nobody who is in business for any length of time can avoid an occasional bad review…often they come from unreasonable clients…and there can be a good explanation for them.
- Don’t dismiss a vendor who doesn't have any reviews. One of the hardest things starting out is for a vendor to accumulate reviews…This by no means, means they have done a bad job, just means they haven’t had a chance to get any reviews yet.
- Don’t ask to speak to past clients…it really is worthless. Reviews on Google, Wedding wire, Thumbtack and other sites cannot be controlled by the vendor…they are typically anonymous and accurate. On the other hand if you ask me to give you past clients to talk to, of course I’m only going to give you names of ones who will say good things about us.
- DO NOT leave a negative, or even a neutral review, without addressing the issue with the vendor themselves. Part of the performance of a vendor is how do they take care of problems? Writing a bad review without giving the vendor a chance to correct the problem isn’t fair and doesn’t do anyone any good. Most vendors will do everything they can to perform and fix something that went wrong. If something happened but the vendor did their best to fix it the effort should be acknowledged in the review.
- DO NOT leave a negative review unless it is truly earned (see 4 above). Be reasonable and honest. Read the review several times before posting a negative one…maybe even come back to it in a couple of days and see if you feel the same way. If a vendor has 40 glowing reviews and you leave a negative one that doesn't seem to make sense, you are the one who will look silly, not the vendor.
- Do not leave a review immediately after your event…wait a few days, or even a week. Right after a wedding your emotions are still all over the board…great seems better than it really is and bad seems worse than it really is. Write the review when you are calm.
- Be completely honest. Remember, if you say something that isn't true and cause damage to a business because of it, you may be liable for damages. Opinions are fine, facts are better. When giving your opinion, make sure it is stated as an opinion, not a fact. The honesty part works for good and bad…don’t be overly critical or overly praiseworthy.
- Expect to be asked to give a referral (maybe multiple times) and don’t be annoyed when you are.
- Always leave reviews and strive to always find something positive to say. While a bad review may make you feel vindicated, most of the time the bad part is just a small part of the overall package of services. Write about the good along with the bad.
- Make sure you are asking for reviews. Don’t be afraid to offer a discount for a review. If a client asks you for a discount, have a reason for doing so, and a review is a good reason. Think of reviews as advertising…you pay to attend a bridal show, so why now reward someone for going out of their way and leaving you a review?
- Address negative reviews if you get them. Most sites that accept reviews allow you to respond to them, and you should. Remember, you are not looking to argue, you are looking to tell your side of the story. Be honest. If you screwed up and deserve the review, admit it and explain how you tried to correct the situation.
- Reward good reviews. If someone leaves you a nice review send them a thank you letter or email. Maybe even a small $5.00 gift card. It encourages good behavior and if all professionals did it, we would all find it easier to get reviews.
- Contact bad reviews and see if you can do anything to fix it. If you truly did make a mistake and it didn't get corrected, try to do so now. You might even get them to write a follow-up review.
- Review other professionals you work with. While you might not be paying for their service, working with them gives you a unique look at their performance and professionalism. These reviews, when honest, can be great information for other people looking for the service.