Online reviews are becoming increasingly a priority for businesses today. They’re especially important for industries built on trust like preschools and childcare centres. Parents conduct a majority of their preschool research on the web, and a study has shown that 93% of consumers read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business.
Positive customer testimonials can also improve your website’s search engine ranking, making your program more visible to prospective families searching for childcare options.
The Importance of Online Reviews to Schools
Preschool reviews and online ratings are hugely important to the reputation of your program. You can create a terrific website or provide an excellent tour of your facilities, but you can’t make people say good things about you or your school. That’s why parent reviews play a significant role. The fact is that families want to read all about you before they even reach out to you. No one purchases anything anymore without doing their research.
How to Obtain Online Reviews?
Here are some ways you can ask parents for online reviews politely and effectively.
1. Reach out to families who have already shared their appreciation
If you've never asked parents to write reviews for your school before, it might feel slightly uncomfortable. An easy way to go about this is reaching out to families who have already expressed their satisfaction or complimented on your services. If their praise was verbal, perhaps you could ask permission to write it down to use for a social media post or an online testimonial. Has a family member thanked one of your teachers recently for going above and beyond for their child? Follow up with these families and ask them to share their appreciation online.
2. Get families to share specifics about what they love about your centre
The more detailed your online reviews are, the better picture they'll paint for your prospective families. If parents previously shared specific things they love about your school, remind them to include those details in their review. It'll be extremely helpful if they can provide examples to support their reviews as well—or even parts of your program that you're most proud of—to give them an idea.
One way to encourage parents is to start on your end first. Provide them an example and they'll most likely to follow-up too. This allows them to know that their reviews matter.
For example, check out what a school has to say about how they are using a school management system, like LittleLives, to manage their home-and-school relationship.
3. Offer an Incentive for Their Reviews
If you’re facing any difficulties to get enough parents to submit a review online, consider providing an incentive for those that do. You could occasionally run a promotion where you offer a discount or coupon for the first five people who leave a review during a specified period. Or, you could say that everyone who reviews you during a period is automatically entitled to win a prize. Be creative and get the word out.
I Got Some Reviews–How to Use Them?
Once you have accumulated online reviews, its time to utilise them to drive up enrolment and boost your online presence.
#ICYMI We recently released an article on Increasing your School's Online Presence, which provides you 5 reasons why you first need to have an online presence.
- Share them on social media. This puts you on the mark to show that (a) you're active on collecting parents' opinions and value their inputs and (b) you're ensuring that their efforts align with your goals–generating more prospective families.
- Create articles or short stories. Most parents are willing to quote or provide you with a statement. Using the information provided, you can easily create content that will help you promote your school's branding.
- Encourage other parents to contribute. Once you have a consistent pattern of collecting testimonials or online reviews, it'll be easier for you to seek parents who are usually on the quieter side or those that you intend to work closer with.
I Got a Negative Online Review–What Should I Do?
Assuming you've done everything above. You've successfully bent over backwards for an overly-demanding parent. But there's always one who's never satisfied. If you do receive a negative online review, there is one action you should always take.
Respond to it. If you decide to respond to a negative review you must choose your words carefully. Again, acknowledge their review and do not get into the nitty gritty.
A sample response is as follows, "Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns. We strive to provide a loving, warm and healthy environment for all families in our care. We encourage all our families to provide feedback while they're with us so we can continuously improve our services. We will be discussing your feedback internally and addressing it appropriately, if needed."
A response above tells other families that you're listening and that you're mature, professional and can take constructive criticism.
You can also privately reach out to gather more details as to why they shared a negative review. Childcare is a customer service business and without customers, your business wouldn't run. Take this opportunity to apologise for their experience, even if you think it's not your fault.
In short, a great online reputation is one of the most essential marketing weapons in your arsenal. Without an established online presence and at least a few reviews, you will be seen as less professional and lacking in credibility, and parents will run away. This is true whether you have a small family child care program, a large child care center, or a preschool. The more work you do to get your name out and to get other parents talking about you online, the more calls you will get and the more likely you will be get new enrolments!