If you were trying to decide which early childhood education centre is best suited to caring for your child, how would you choose? It is likely that before you even step foot into a centre, that you would have conducted some online research and read the available online reviews to form your judgement.
Online customer feedback is the new word of mouth and it essential for your marketing strategy in child care, with 91% of 18 to 34-year olds putting as much trust in online reviews as they do in personal recommendations.
Customer feedback for business success
The message is clear — positive customer feedback and reviews online can help you attract more customers or clients. Data from across a range of sources highlights the importance of customer feedback for businesses to thrive. For example, according to a U.S. study, 93% of consumers confirmed that online reviews have an impact when it comes to choosing where to direct their time and money. Furthermore, 63% of consumers were willing to spend up to 15% more for the same product or service if they believed that the quality would be higher.
Customer feedback doesn’t have to be visible to everyone for it to improve or grow your business. Hearing what you’re doing right — or what you could be doing better — directly from your customers is the best way to update the way your business is run.
Seeking quality customer feedback
If you are ready for your business to start gathering customer feedback online, you might be wondering how you can go about it. It’s one thing to know that feedback is important, but the next step is to create ways for your clients to get the feedback to you.
Customer feedback can be gathered through a variety of means, including:
- Online surveys and feedback forms: You can make a free online survey for your customers with a tool like Google Forms or Survey Monkey and email it to them for feedback delivered in a private space.
- Social media feedback: Facebook recommendations are easy for people to leave and are a commonly viewed place for prospective clients to research your business and its culture.
- Online reviews on relevant sites: Early childhood education centres have numerous websites that help people choose reliable centres, such as Care For Kids.
- Google reviews: As the world’s most popular search engine, the quality of your listing on Google can have a huge impact on your business. More on this later.
The easiest way to get customers to start providing your business with online feedback is to simply ask!
You can ask in person, via email or over the phone. Some businesses might opt to outline the ways that feedback can be left online on signage in the reception area or noticeboard, or it can be included on brochures, newsletters or business cards. Feedback forms and surveys can be sent out to your customers at various points in the year to provide the opportunity for people to provide feedback privately if they prefer. If you’re hoping to share feedback provided privately for marketing purposes, best to be clear.
When you are asking for customer feedback in the form of online reviews, it is important to familiarise yourself with the legalities that should be considered. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) makes these three points, stating that businesses should NOT:
- encourage family and friends to write reviews about your business without disclosing their personal connection with your business in that review
- write reviews when you have not experienced the good or service reviewed, or which do not reflect a genuinely held opinion
- solicit others to write reviews about your business or a competitor’s business if they have not experienced the good or service.
Offering incentives in exchange for customer feedback can be tempting, but if you choose to do this then you must ensure that your incentives are offered regardless of the nature of the feedback. The ACCC explains that incentives can be used only if:
- incentives are offered equally to consumers likely to be complimentary and consumers likely to be critical, and positive and negative reviews are treated the same
- the reviewer is expressly told that the incentive is available whether the review is positive or negative
- the incentive is prominently disclosed to users who rely on affected reviews.
Grow with Google reviews
We know that online reviews are important to customers and clients while they are in the research phase of finding the right child care centre. So, where are they doing this research? While Facebook is popular, for most people, it’s via Google.
To be able to ask for Google reviews from your customers, you will need to be searchable via Google Maps. This requires you to have a Google Maps listing, plus if you want to be able to reply to your customers’ reviews (which you definitely do), you will need to verify your business with Google. This process involves Google sending your business a verification code usually by post, though phone and email verification is possible for select businesses. Once verified, you can begin to receive Google reviews, edit your business listing including name, hours and phone number, or even claim an existing listing if one already exists for your business.
Once your business is set up to receive Google reviews, you can start asking your customers to leave reviews by providing them with your personalised link that takes them right where they need to go.
Reviews and realisations
While you generally hope that your customer feedback will be overwhelmingly positive, sometimes it may not be. It might feel distressing or irritating when you first come across this, but sometimes bad feedback can shed a light on a gap in your service or an issue that needs attention. Feedback that is less than glowing can provide your business with the chance to learn and grow. Take this feedback on board as a learning opportunity — talk about it with your staff to brainstorm ways your business can prevent similar issues occurring in the future, or how you can improve customers’ experiences.
Sometimes customer reviews may appear online that seem unlikely or simply untrue. These situations can be frustrating, but they also give you the opportunity to showcase your professionalism and quality service through a thoughtful and carefully worded reply. This shows your prospective clients that even if issues do arise, your team is capable of handling things with care and competence.
If providing the highest quality service to your children in your child care centre is your priority, customer feedback is essential. This powerful tool helps you to understand what you are doing right and what areas might need work. Use customer feedback to enhance your business and grow it, all at once.