There’s no question that social proof is compelling. Nowhere is that more obvious than with online reviews.
Indeed, according to a recent consumer survey, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. That’s nearly the same level as a referral!
Online reviews are particularly important to homeowners, many of whom are poised to spend thousands of dollars with you.
Unfortunately, many home improvement companies either misunderstand or ignore important aspects of this increasingly vital tool.
What follows are three best practices to make online reviews an advantage for your company.
#1: Embrace the Power of Negative Reviews
Everybody gets some bad reviews. Everybody.
Even if you’ve done a terrific job, some homeowners make up problems, distort the facts and blow misunderstandings out of proportion. You may even have competitors who pose as unhappy homeowners, just to take a swing at your business.
But negative reviews are not all bad news.
First, because homeowners expect to see some negative comments. They understand that there is always a mix. Negative reviews make the positive ones feel more credible.
Second, because negative reviews represent an opportunity to demonstrate your attentiveness and commitment to customer satisfaction.
The goal is not to win an argument. It’s to showcase your ability to respond quickly, specifically and respectfully. That sends a strong, positive message about your company.
Tip: acknowledge the post publicly and aim to move the resolution towards a private discussion.
So, try to keep things in perspective. As long as you’ve got lots of good reviews, you’ll overwhelm the bad ones.
Which brings us to ….
#2: Make Review Gathering a Company-Wide Initiative
If you’ve had a bad experience as a homeowner, online reviews are a natural choice for venting.
Unfortunately, it happens far less on the positive side. Even the most satisfied homeowners will need some prompting.
So you need to make collecting reviews super-easy and you have to ask homeowners directly and repeatedly.
Make it part of your standard post-installation practice:
Making a follow-up phone call? Ask homeowners to share their thoughts online as well.
Sending an email? Include a link that takes homeowners directly to your review page.
Sending a direct mail follow-up survey? Ask again and tell homeowners exactly, step-by-step, how and where to leave a review.
And don’t forget to involve your staff, too:
- Make sure your sales team incorporates review requests into the post-sales process.
- Provide internal incentives/bonuses to staff who are named in well reviewed jobs.
- Set specific, company-wide goals and track progress regularly.
Online reviews are powerful. But they won’t happen without a concerted, across the board effort.
#3. Keep a Close Eye on Your Reputation
Reviews are not top of mind in the course of a typical workday. For the most part, you’ll only see them if you go looking.
Start by doing what homeowners do. Begin by searching for your company name on Google and Yelp. Not just by checking your business listing there. Do an actual search from the search box.
Then look for yourself on RipOff Report and PissedConsumer. These “complaint” sites provide a window into what homeowners are thinking and where there may be opportunities to improve.
Make sure to monitor social media as well. Facebook and Twitter, in particular, are places where homeowners are talking. You don’t need to spend hours and hours. But you must do this regularly so you can see what’s being said and respond quickly.
One more thing. Assign the job of monitoring to someone in your company and make sure they are sharing what they find internally. You don’t leave payroll in the hands of “whoever has some time to get it done.” You shouldn’t do that with online monitoring either.
Reviews drive the success of your business today. Make active tracking of what homeowners think a key part of your operation.
Get Optimistic About Online Reviews
As a rule, home improvement companies are uncomfortable with online reviews. They have seen the trouble these can cause and the damage they can do.
At Keyword Connects, we take a different, “glass half full” view. We recognize and embrace the powerful role reviews play in every buying decision.
You should too. Remember, online reviews are trusted by 84% of homeowners. Make sure to manage the negative comments, commit to generating more reviews, and make this a standard part of your business process!
P.S. Many thanks to our strategic partner, GuildQuality, for providing some insights and perspective in this blog!