Online Reviews and How to Handle Them
Nowadays, it’s common for the customer to do the work of finding you. You need to be discoverable first, but you really need to nail the customer experience when they show up. This includes favorable reviews right on the front page of Google search.
Before we delve into reviews in-depth, here are some general points to consider.
- Reviews are critical to online success
- They are front and center on Google
- Interested parties will read them, especially the 5- and 1-star ones
- They are a powerful way for customers to hear of your work and make a judgment before even calling you
- Alongside word-of-mouth marketing, you can’t directly control reviews
The customer relationship is different in the Google world. Businesses can create a web presence and pop up from a simple search. However, this newfound ease doesn’t excuse you from needing a great website with clear contact options. You still need to follow up with excellent service and demonstrate this clearly in your reviews.
“When a consumer uses a review platform like Yelp or Google My Business, the decision and urgency to buy are exactly what prompted the person’s search. If traditional advertising is a megaphone that enables businesses to shout and see who’s listening, review sites are tractor beams that pull consumers toward local businesses precisely when they’re actively looking to spend money. That’s an invaluable opportunity for small businesses with tight – or non-existent- marketing budgets”- Cory Capoccia, Forbes.com.
If someone is searching for local businesses, they’re serious about taking a step. That may be buying something or just a visit to your location.
Especially for a big purchase like a new roof, many people want to do their research first. They want to be sure of their choice, so give them that confidence.
Reviews are a powerful metric for potential customers.
All your reviews matter, but the quantity and the top few matter the most. Hopefully, you have some recent positive reviews, and if you don’t, encourage customers to leave an honest opinion on Google/Yelp/whatever site.
I do want to clarify that reviews are different from testimonials. Reviews are often more natural and spontaneous, driven by an extremely positive or negative experience. Maybe your team knocked a project out of the park, or maybe things got ugly, and the customers wanted to make an example of you. Even one team member behaving negatively can sour an otherwise good experience. The point is, you will get negative reviews even if you try to be the best you can be.
On the other hand, testimonials are cherry-picked and usually positive. They should have a place in your marketing efforts, but they don’t come across the same way. We covered testimonials in a previous report, so consult that issue for more information.
But how do you deal with negative reviews?
Many people challenge them head-on, only making the situation worse. They get defensive and treat the review as a threat to their business. This approach scares off potential customers, as they see how you treat people who feel unsatisfied.
Instead, accept the criticism and make things right with the disgruntled customer. Resolving conflicts shows future customers that you care more about solving problems than protecting your ego.
An unhappy customer with an unaddressed issue constantly advocates to their friends and family, spreading their negative experience far beyond themselves. Their experience ripples out among their community and can be a deciding factor in contractor choice.
Cory says, “Small businesses can turn negative reviews into a second chance. Everyone has a bad day, and business owners deserve to know when something’s wrong. In the past, dissatisfied customers might not even fill out a comment card — they’d just lambaste the business via word of mouth, and the owner might never know anything was wrong.”
With online reviews, you can fix the problem before it spirals out of control, something you had to work much harder at in the past. Use reviews for what they are, an open window into customer experiences, and an amplification of their verdict to a much larger audience.
I’ve even seen companies reply to every review. They celebrate and thank the positive ones, clarify the unfairly negative ones, or resolve the justifiably negative reviews.
Whatever your approach, reviews are vital to success and an important indicator of the quality of your service. Take them seriously and watch your business excel.
Todd Miller has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.
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