A wise little rabbit once told his deer friend, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”
If only that were true on the internet…
In today’s economy, where it practically requires a popular vote to decide where to pick up a pizza on the way home, businesses live and thrive on their ability to generate positive online reviews. We all know word-of-mouth is a tried-and-true way to grow your business, and it’s probably the most reputable way to go for those who have been able to cultivate that return customer base. But the days of passing along the business card out of your Rolodex are over — and online reviews are king.
A 2017 study conducted by international search firm BrightLocal revealed some pretty shocking numbers:
- 97% of consumers looked online for local businesses
- 73% of consumers trust a local business more due to positive reviews
- 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business
That shows the power of a positive online reputation! Which means it’s more important than ever to cultivate your business’s reputation through online reviews.
So how do you go about getting those reviews? Turns out…just ask for them. But as we found out at White Castle Roofing, there’s a way to do that without seeming too over-eager or high-pressure — or too hands-off, so as not to receive a review at all.
First of all, let’s get this out of the way — customers aren’t going to review you out of the goodness of their hearts. Think of all the business interactions you had this week: buying groceries, picking up your morning coffee, going to the bank, filling a prescription, getting gas, and so on. Did you leave a review for any of those businesses? Odds are, the answer is no. So it’s nonsensical to assume customers will just leave you reviews because you did a good job. Don’t expect it without asking.
And when you do ask, it needs to be at-their-fingers easy! At White Castle Roofing, for a full year, we sent a little card with our thank-you notes, with step-by-step directions on leaving a Google review on mobile or desktop platforms. I wish I could say the reviews poured in — but they didn’t. As we came to realize, it just wasn’t immediate enough. A customer, even a happy one, isn’t likely to set down their current task to log in to their laptop (or even their phone) and leave you a review — but if they don’t do it right then, it isn’t likely that they’ll come back to it.
Instead, here’s what has worked WONDERS for us — to the tune of 90 reviews (some Google, some Facebook, and some on our website) through the first two quarters of 2018. Some may not be applicable to every business, but if you’re a contractor, this model could be modified for a whole host of fields — likely including yours.
- First, we got over our fear of awkwardness and just started asking customers, on the spot, during a post-job inspection, if they were pleased with the service enough that they would be willing to review us. That step was probably the hardest to overcome! But with good training, it’s paid off. We assign one of our Project Managers to each job, who establishes a relationship with the customer on the day of the project by introducing themselves as the day-of contact for any questions or concerns. After the job is complete, the Project Manager visits the job site to complete an inspection, and touch base with the homeowner again — in person, if at all possible. He explains what we did, and that he has checked over everything to ensure it’s up to our rigorous standards and invites any questions or concerns. Only then, after the customer has stated they are pleased, does he ask, outright, if they would be willing to review us — and often, that answer is yes!
- In the event that the Project Manager was unable to reach the customer after his inspection, the salesman who sold the job reaches back out to the customer, ideally via e-mail. He goes over what the Project Manager would have said — the scope of the job, any deviations from the plan, etc. — and thanks the customer for their business. He also includes with that e-mail a Before and After composite from CompanyCam, and link to review us.
- Finally, we partnered with a digital marketing company to help manage our online reputation through their review platform, which has helped us immensely! But it’s still possible to make it easy to leave a review without this app. If you can make it too easy for the customer to say no, they’re more likely to say yes! Include a direct link to review you on Google, Facebook, or Yelp in your e-mails, and if you utilize a Project Manager, set up a standard e-mail with those links that he can send to customers on the spot. Technology is your friend here — use it!
Ultimately, as BrightLocal reveals, 68% of consumers will leave a review when asked — but only 74% report being asked in the first place. But ask and ye shall receive! And the best way to ask, that we’ve found, is to communicate what you did, politely ask for feedback, and follow up on it.
And one more thing — when a customer does leave you a review, respond! Be sure to thank them for their kind words. Express your appreciation for the opportunity to do business with them. And if the review wasn’t a positive one (they do happen…), thank the customer for the opportunity to make it right, explain what you’re doing to achieve that, and reach out to the customer offline to work it out. A full 30% of customers stated that businesses responding to reviews is key in their opinion of the business — and that’s an easy one to nail since the harder part (getting the review in the first place) is already done!
Managing your online reputation is important. But it doesn’t have to be rocket science. Just a little extra communication and a little bit of technology can make a world of difference in your business. So harness the power of word of mouth, and start asking your customers for their online feedback today!