The Lounge Q+A: Natasha O'Banion, Process Mastery Coach Pro
Process Mastery Coach, Automated CEO
Take care of [your clients]. And once they love you, you can ask for a review and a referral.
It’s great to have more opportunities, but it’s even greater to nurture the people there and then add on.
PocketSuite Process Mastery Coach Pro
Process Mastery Coach and Founder/CEO of Automated CEO, Natasha O’Banion, is back in The Lounge this week with PocketSuite CEO, Chinwe Onyeagoro. Natasha is covering the three R’s – Referrals, Reviews, and Retention – and explaining how each one can pay off in the long run for your business.
Natasha, I did a little bit of a preamble to let folks know what we’re going to talk about today. You have set the stage for folks on automation. We’ve covered a lot of really cool things. The three R’s don’t get covered often, but we know they can be game-changing. Three R’s are reviews, referrals, and retention. Can you talk to us about each of those things, and how do you think about them in relation to each other?
If you’re taking care of your clients extremely well, rolling out the red carpet, giving them the wow factor, allowing them to love your brand, you’re going to get retention. They’re going to keep coming back for more and more. You’re giving them more than they thought. So, those are key elements in your clients.
Do what you say you’re going to do and make them give a review. One of my mistakes was that I would think, “Oh, my clients love us. Every day they’re always singing our praises,” and then I didn’t ask for the review. So, I know that they’re happy, but I’m not telling the world that they’re happy.
Referrals. Same thing. Just as you’re asking for the review, you got to ask for the referral. “Hey, how’s everything going? I’m so happy that you’re a customer of ours. It’s been amazing servicing you. It’s amazing having you be a part of our family. If you know friends or family that could benefit from the same service, please share. And I would love to incentivize you by doing so, just because you’ve been so amazing.”
We use our clients as brand ambassadors. In the online world, we have affiliates, and in your B2C world, you can have brand ambassadors. And those are your raving fans who love you, who use you every single day that you retain as a client. They are more than happy to refer everyone to you. You have to keep it top-of-mind for them. What I notice is that when people are hanging out, and they say, “Oh yeah, we know somebody,” it’s casual. But if you make it official in calling them a brand ambassador, it’s something that they’re more conscious of doing, and they’re naturally more aware.
How do you think about them in sequence? Do reviews come first? And is there a breakpoint where if they give me this level of a review, I ask them for a referral? Or are they independent? You might be asking them for a referral irrespective of the review level.
I always think retention comes first because if you’re a new business owner servicing your first client, give them the wow factor. Take care of them. And once they love you, you can ask for a review and a referral. So, it’s not one or two. You service them well, and as soon as you get a client, ask for a review and a referral. You rinse and repeat. You get another client.
And that’s how you keep your business going for legacy and generational wealth. That’s what I find a lot with brands. They do not have that retention, referral, review process in their day-to-day operations, and they miss the mark every time. I know businesses right now that service thousands of clients. You and I see it in the PocketSuite app. We know how many times their clients come through their system, and then we go on Google and look at their reviews, and it’s three. So we say, “Your clients love you on Instagram. We see that. They love you on Facebook, but why is Google not speaking the praises that we know are happening?” And it’s a missed mark by not asking for the opportunity.
As you think about what’s reasonable, some people get demoralized. It’s like, “Well, I asked ten clients and no one gave me a review, no one responded.” What’s reasonable in terms of response rate and a follow-through rate on reviews and referrals?
There’s no reasonable rate. I just keep asking. So, I have a client who, every time someone asks me about reviews, I always mention her. I have a client who loves me to death. We’re like besties. She has a catering service in the city that I use. Her dog came to my house, and we service him twice a day. She sees me all the time, and I’m like, “Hey girl, don’t forget to get me a review.” I’ll tag her on our automated system. She says, “Okay, okay, I’ll do it.” Doesn’t do it. Then I’ll call her three weeks later, “Hey, I’m waiting on that review. I would love for our audience to hear your feedback.” “Okay, okay, I’m going to do it.” She doesn’t do it. And then I’ll hit her up again in three months, and I’ll say, “Listen, I need Banks on our Google review. I need people seeing his photo,” because also you can add a picture. I softened the pot, and I was like, “I need your babe on my profile,” and she’s like, “Okay, okay, I’ll do it,” and then she never does it. So, I mean, I’ve been servicing her for seven years. She’s had multiple staff members in her house, but people are busy. Some, no matter how great you take care of them, no matter how much a family member you believe you are, they just get so crazy. You can give them a link. You can drop it off at the doorstep. Some people are just that way.
It’s funny because you are in such weird spirits about it. Other people might say, “Wow, I’m really angry that they don’t just do this small thing I’m asking.”
We don’t take anything to heart. People are people. You love them. You do what you are supposed to do. It’s not about reciprocating something from somebody to be great. You’re doing it for the genuine sake of your heart. You know you’re awesome. If they don’t give you a review, it’s okay. But guess what? We have to have it as a process because where these ten clients didn’t do it, these fifty clients will. So, you got to make sure that you’re just asking for it because it doesn’t matter. I keep going. It’ll be Halloween, it’ll be Thanksgiving, and I’ll still shoot my shot. And they’ll say, “Oh my God, oh gosh, I know I probably have twenty emails from you.”
I believe that we do a great job taking care of new clients or trying to bring in new business, but we sometimes forget that loyalty aspect with the clients who have already been with us. So, every three months, I’ll send them a courtesy subscription box, or I’ll get them on the phone, and I’ll say, “Hey, how’s everything going?” They know I’m going to call every three months. Still, no review. It’s fine. It’s just sometimes how it is.
Natasha, we got a question from the audience. They want to know because you mentioned that you’d go to people’s social media pages, and there will be so much engagement with their followers and clients, but then they have very few reviews. They asked how do you get people on social media who love you? What’s the easiest way to route them to a Google review or a Yelp review?
Make it part of your process. You guys got to process master everything you do because you have to make it a pattern and a routine. The way I coach is not for Natasha to do it. It is for my team to do it. So, if we don’t make this a day-to-day routine, it’s not going to happen. For us, it’s in our pre-qualifying paperwork. As soon as they sign up, that’s when you can get the documents and information from them. Even my coaching clients that I coach for B2B, I get their birthdays. I get their address because I’m going to send them stuff, and I’m going to shoot them out on their birthdays. And I say, “Hey, let’s get social. What’s your Instagram and Facebook?” Then you make an effort to tag them and engage with their stuff, too.
Again, like I said in the last call. I had no idea that my clients got a reward in our city for being in a station. I would’ve never known that if I wasn’t following her. And she was like, “Oh my God, thank you for supporting me.” I shared it to everybody. I got to rave on her, and it brought that extra element to our brand. I think we forget what brand means to the relationship. What people say about you when they’re not in your face. And so, she was like, “Oh my God, my dog walker.” They shouted me out and sent it over. She knows that we service thousands of clients. So, she was like, “All these people are going to know about it. And they are going to be the same women like us who need her services.” It’s a whole big family, and we spread the love throughout each other and get retention.
If people who are following you, who are not yet clients, they’re following you on social, but they haven’t yet come through the client channel. Is there a reverse commute in terms of how you get them through the process?
Absolutely. The thing about social media is people follow us, and we usually are just like, “You’re following me, cool.” But, I made it part of our business. I’m not that great on social media, and I’m trying to make an honest effort.
You’re awesome on social media, Natasha. Who are you kidding?
I’m trying to get better. People who start to follow me, I try to make an honest effort to at least reach back out, do a video or text or a voice note and say, “Hey, thanks for following me.” Let them know about what you’re doing, “If we can help each other out in any way, let me know.” So again, just open the chains, even if you don’t catch them on the DM, because your followers come in so fast. If you miss them, still get an idea of going through your feed. This is one of the reasons why I don’t like my follower count too high: I try to pay attention to the folks who are in there.
I believe in nurturing what you have versus getting a really large audience, and then they’re lost in the sauce, and you can’t keep up. It’s great to have the engagement. It’s great to have more opportunities, but it’s even greater to nurture the people there and then add on. So, reach out to your followers. They’re going to be following you. They’re peeking in. I have a lot of clients who follow me but do not engage, but they’re still peeking. Next thing you know, they booked my high ticket program in my booking. I’m like, “What the heck? This person has never talked to me.” So, don’t think that just because someone’s not engaging with you, they’re not watching. They are.
Someone told me this quote, ‘Never frown because you don’t know who’s falling in love with your smile.’
Oh, I love that. Oh my God. I love that because I’m a smiler. I got to make a T-shirt with that one.
You’ve talked about a lot of things associated with giving love to clients, and I think we would all love to do these things. How are you budgeting for the quarterly calls, the gifts, the time that you’re investing, literally every day, in making sure folks are getting nurtured?
It’s really not that expensive. Obviously, Instagram, Facebook, social media is completely free. I run my business without me. So, my job is to work on sales, marketing, and follow-up. So, where most people work 40 hours a week, I’m the CEO, I don’t clock that time. I usually will save myself the fun stuff. You guys know me, I don’t get to talk to humans, and I miss that. So, I’m like, “I’m taking that job. I’m going to be calling the people.” It doesn’t cost me anything. But even if I can’t, I have virtual assistance. I have my team. I cross-train the people we work with, and they’re able to do it.
Usually, I will include an extra two hours, two days a week, on everyone’s schedule, just so everyone’s not burned out with the same task and minimum wage or living $15 an hour for quick follow-up stuff. Again, a virtual assistant would love to do that kind of stuff for you. I don’t believe in getting your high-performance team to do the follow-up. There are virtual assistants in the Philippines now who specialize in this for literally six dollars an hour. There’s no excuse not to have a touchpoint on your client at this point.
Many folks in service businesses that are one and done like your wedding planner see retention as sort of, “Well, I’m not retaining. It’s a one and done.” They see reviews and referrals as an off-boarding strategy, not an ongoing nurture strategy. So, how can you help people who do have the one-off kind of business where they’re not getting repeat business from the same client? How can you help them conceptualize how to use reviews and referrals and think about retention in that context? You’ve talked a lot about community building. What does that look like in terms of, “They’re done with my actual service, what next?” In what direction am I nurturing them?
We talked about real estate agents last week. I’ve lived in the automotive industry from a teenager to an adult. So, we know about those one-off clients—more than anybody. You buy a house. We don’t think you’re going to buy a house in another 30 or 15 years. We don’t know, right? We don’t think you’re going to buy another car in five years or so. But we follow up with those people. We remember their birthdays. We remember the holidays. I talk about being an ambassador all the time. I have checkmarks through systems. So, I would say the same thing for a wedding planner. You also have checkmarks through that whole process that you’re working with them. Some of the wedding planners start a year out. So, when you have those little checkmarks that you’re working with a client, you need to treat that as a new relationship every single time.
When you’re talking in the beginning, let them know your process. When you check in on cake tasting or dress planning, say, “Hey, we do this every day. If you know friends and family, let us know, or you can find us here.” A lot of times, people don’t realize that the guests are watching you. They see how amazing you’re treating their family member. They’re like, “Wow, well, we have a wedding coming up. I remembered how amazing that experience was for them. They said nothing but great things. We know who we’re going to use”.
Do not underestimate the value of understanding that your guests are paying attention. Those are the people that you’re going to be watching out for. Also, people send their wedding videos out after. They put it on social media, the recap. There are so many touchpoints.
So, every business has a life cycle with its clients. There’s no one and done—no such thing.
Final question, Natasha. What do you do when the review isn’t great? How do you handle the push on Google? Or if it’s not showing up on Google, if they send you a note saying, “No, I’m not going to, and here’s why.” How do you handle that? And how do you ideally turn it around?
I love that question, Chinwe, because this is going to be the most valuable answer you are going to get today. When you get a bad review, do not take it personally. I know it’s going to be really hard. When I got my first bad review, I think I had dreams about it. I was like, “Oh my God, what could we have done? What could we have changed?” I played it in my head over and over because I really don’t like bad reviews.
The guy was expecting me to come to his house eight months pregnant. It was something totally crazy. But anyhow, it happened.
So, don’t take it personally, number one. When you respond, you’re responding for the audience and not for the client. You have to respond publicly, but you’re responding to the audience. Explain in the process, be sincere, apologize for whatever happened. Reach out to the client and say, “Hey, I just received the review from you. I just want to know, is there anything that we can do to fix it? I’m sorry if something slipped through the cracks.” Try to get them on the phone. Try to talk it out with them. Half the time, clients may go in and change the review or say, “Okay, I probably didn’t receive it the way I thought it was. Let me go ahead and update it.” Either they’ll remove it or say what they felt, and then they’ll edit it at the bottom and say, “The owner called me and we were able to resolve this.” They’ll add it so you can see the full story, which transparency is always really great.
But if you cannot get on the phone with the client, respond via your process so when future clients come in, they know exactly how you operate, and then they can decide if you’re going to be a good fit or not. Don’t go in attacking the customer. Just say, “Thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate the time that you took to write this review.” Then explain what your business does in these circumstances, what your clients can expect and what happened.
I have two bad reviews, I believe. One was when I first started, and then another one was when a client booked us and she forgot. She filled the paperwork out and everything, and then she forgot. The staff member shows up in the house, takes her dog out. Then she gets home, and she’s like, “Where’s my dog?” And we’re like, “On a walk.” And mind you, we send reports live when we show up. So, she got a notification. We’re like, “Have you been not getting the alerts?” Anyhow, she wrote a review that we stole the dog or something.
And we do get clients currently that say, “I love your reviews. I saw a couple of funny ones.” They say the word “funny,” and I’m like, “Okay, well, don’t say funny. I’m not trying to do that.” But they can also get a sense of who’s up there and down here. So, just keep it political. Keep it to the facts, keep it to process. They’ll know. It’s okay to get a bad review. I, personally, kind of like them. I don’t like when we have all fives, so I’m like, “We’re normal over here. We’re regular people.”
It looks like you’re unreal, right? I always say that you respond to the bad reviews to make the next person reading it feel like this is how they would treat me if this happened to me. So it feels like it’s professional and reasonable. Natasha, as usual, you have schooled us. We’ve been talking retention, reviews, and referrals, folks, the three R’s. Thank you, as always, Natasha.