The Inn on First, Napa CA Jim Gunther and Jamie Cherry operate the Inn on First, a small bed and breakfast in Napa. And they fully understand how powerful customer reviews can be for their business.

They run a great operation, but the customer service doesn’t stop when the guest leaves. After every guest’s stay, they send a personalized thank you email. They ask for feedback about their inn, the quality of their service and any of the local activities that they may have recommended during your stay. Their contact info is spread throughout the message… They actually want to hear from their customers.

But then they go a step further. Here’s what they say next:

A return visit and referral to friends and fellow travelers is our highest compliment. As such, your opinions matter to all travelers, not only us! Please take the time to visit one or more of the following websites and post a review:– search for The Inn on First, then click on “write a review of this hotel”– find our listing and then click on “review this property”– find our listing under B&B’s & click on “guest comments”
Yahoo! Travel – Search for “The Inn on First” and choose our listing. Click on “write a review.”
Judy’ – Search for The Inn on First B&B in Napa, CA – Click on “Review this Business”

Note the pattern here: They ask for direct feedback, and they provide the phone number and email for customers to contact them. Then, they ask for customer reviews, and they give you the links and put the tools right in front of you to go rate them. And guess what… They’re consistently rated as one of the top B&Bs in Napa Valley.

Ask for Your Customer’s Opinion
Here’s the question: Are you engaging your clients and asking them to provide feedback? Are you giving them the tools and making it as easy as possible for customers to recommend you? If not, you’re missing opportunities for these customers to become your best salespeople. Relate it to the apartment industry — How much better would your community rank on ApartmentRatings or Yelp if you asked your residents to rate you after a month, three months, a year? How much more focus would you have on the things you’re doing well or the things you need to fix?

Customer reviews are proven to be an effective way to build a relationship with your customers, and they double as great word-of-mouth advertising. But if you’re not asking your best clients to review your business, you take the chance that only the disgruntled folks will be heard.  

No Need for Bribes
Jim and Jamie close the email with a special discount for returning guests and another thank you for your business. The entire message is thoughtful, tactful, not too long, and not pushy at all … They don’t need to bribe you into saying nice things about their business; they just put the links in front of the customer and let them do the rest. You want to do business with these guys, and you want to send more business their way.

And that’s what I’m doing now… The next time you’re in Napa, stay with Jim and Jamie. You won’t regret it.

How are you using customer ratings and reviews to build your business?