Mediagistic Blog

Reviews Management 101: A Guide for Home Services Businesses

Responding to customer reviews isn’t just a good business practice — it’s a fundamental part of your home services marketing strategy. And it turns out that responding to reviews pays off in some impactful ways. In fact, a study by TripAdvisor published in the Harvard Business review showed that, when businesses begin responding to reviews, they see a 12% increase in the number of reviews and a measurable improvement in ratings (.12 stars on average). Providing a world-class customer experience can drive those ratings even higher.

For home services businesses in particular, the benefits are self-evident. This type of engagement can boost your presence in the Google Map pack and enhance the performance of your Google Local Services ads. However, thanks to numerous platform guidelines and an increasingly intense regulatory environment, there’s a virtual labyrinth of best practices and not-so-obvious pitfalls you’ll need to be aware of to ensure your business doesn’t land in hot water. Read on to learn more about how to manage online reviews for your home services business.

Why Reviews Management Matters for Businesses

For starters, it’s important to understand that your review management strategy and your local search strategy are one and the same. As you can see in the graphic below from ReviewTrackers, reviews not only drive your business’ position in the local map pack and GLSA results, they actually are a top factor in influencing consumers’ decision to select a business as well.

Image via ReviewTrackers

Beyond that, here are some additional facts supporting why reviews management matters for businesses:

  • Replying to 25% of reviews can raise revenue by 35% (Womply).
  • 56% of consumers trust businesses more that respond to reviews (Yelp).
  • 57% may avoid businesses that don’t reply to feedback (Forbes).
  • 89% are likely to patronize businesses that respond to all online reviews (Brightlocal).
  • 53% expect a reply to negative reviews within a week (Reviewtrackers).
  • Businesses that answer reviews may see a 49% increase in spending (Womply).

Best Practices for Reviews: Google, Yelp, and Facebook

Reviews on platforms like Google, Meta, and Yelp should be your top priority as a home services business, followed closely by Apple Maps (read more here on how to claim your Apple Maps listing). Here’s how to navigate each platform’s rules to build trust and gain positive attention.

For Google:

  • Show all reviews. Use a feed on your site that shows the good and the bad.
  • Don’t just cherry-pick the good ones and represent them as if they’re the entirety of your reviews. This is against Google’s guidelines, and in some cases, can even get you in trouble with the FTC.
  • Read Google’s Review Guidelines for more details.

For Meta (Facebook):

  • You control the “reviews” tab. Turn it on or off in your page settings.
  • People can still talk about you. They can message, comment, or post in groups, even if reviews are off.
  • Answer publicly. Show you care and value feedback.
  • Read Meta’s Review Guidelines for more details.

For Yelp:

  • Yelp by far has the strictest stance on how businesses manage their reviews. The main one: don’t ask for reviews.
  • You can tell people, “Check us out on Yelp.”
  • Give great service. This is your best bet to get good reviews on Yelp.
  • Answer reviews carefully. Yelp watches how businesses interact with customers.
  • Read Yelp’s Review Guidelines for more details.

4 Things to Remember:

  1. Answer every review, positive or negative.
  2. Providing an exceptional customer experience wins. It gets you more and better reviews.
  3. Don’t pay for reviews or incentivize them in any way. In other words: No discounts or free stuff for a review.
  4. Stay within the rules. Each platform has its own. Know them and follow them.

When you do all this, you build trust. People see you listen and care. They’re more likely to choose your service and tell others about it. And that’s good for business.

Avoid the practice of “review-gating” at all costs; that is, using software or marketing automation to divert or redirect negative reviews to a private inbox rather than to the aforementioned review channels. The FTC has been penalizing this practice aggressively in recent years, with hefty fines to brands like Fashion Nova and Hey Dude. Focus on delivering exceptional service for organic positive reviews.

Other Review Platforms

There are a number of other platforms where HVAC contractors typically get reviews from consumers. Some other major ones include Angi, Nextdoor, Thumbtack, Houzz, HomeAdvisor (which is owned by Angi) and the Better Business Bureau.

We definitely recommend keeping track of reviews on these platforms as well, but only once you’ve locked down your review management strategy for the Big 3 platforms we just mentioned – Google, Facebook and Yelp. Prioritize those three first before spreading out your efforts on these other channels.

Responding to Reviews

When it comes to responding to negative reviews, we recommend taking an “ABC” approach (which is a streamlined version of the Disney Insititue’s famous “HEARD” model):

  • A. Acknowledge. If something went wrong, admit it and apologize. We’d strongly recommend apologizing for the customer’s sense of frustration if nothing else. Customers appreciate honesty and it shows you value their feedback.
  • B. Be Proactive. Don’t just say “sorry.” Address what went wrong and how you can fix it. Show you’re serious about making things better.
  • C. Communicate Professionally. Keep cool, even if the review is tough. Stay calm, don’t get defensive, offer constructive solutions and always move the conversation offline to a customer service phone number (preferred) or a customer service email inbox. This helps to deescalate the situation and shows you’re professional.

Remember: Your responses are public. You’re not just talking to the reviewer; you’re showing hundreds and maybe thousands of your future potential customers how you handle problems. Also, it’s possible to retain unhappy customers and bring them back into the fold nearly 70% of the time if you solve their issue in a timely, responsive manner.

To learn more about deescalating conflict, responding to reviews and providing an exceptional customer experience, watch the video below about the Disney Insititute’s HEARD model and read more about it by clicking here.

Video courtesy of Making the Fan

3 Additional Best Practices for Responding to Reviews

  1. Check for new reviews on each of the big 3 platforms at least 1x per business day. And check at least 1x a week for other platforms.
  2. Every review should be answered, whether it’s positive or negative within 1 business day.
  3. Do not use the same review response repeatedly. Your review response should thoughtfully address the specific experience and/or concerns of your customers.

Final Note: Don’t be “Too Good to be True.” Perfection is not the Goal.

When managing your business’s online reputation, it’s useful to remember that perfection is not the goal and actually can hurt your business. In fact, aiming for a perfect 5-star rating isn’t always the best strategy for building trust. Consumers often view businesses with exclusively 5-star reviews as less credible, preferring companies with more realistic ratings that reflect genuine customer experiences. Here are a few additional facts:

  • Businesses with ratings of 3.5 to 4.5 stars earn more than those with higher and lower ratings (Womply & Search Engine Journal, 2019)
  • 15 to 30 percent of all online reviews may be falsified. Consumers are aware of this and actively avoiding 5-star brands (NBC report, 2018)
  • Product purchases were most influenced by reviews with an average star rating between 4.2 and 4.5 (GetApp & TechCrunch, 2016)

Reviews Management: 8 Key Takeaways

  1. Review management matters for businesses—the mere act of doing so has been shown to increase the volume of reviews by up to 12% and your average star rating by .12 stars.
  2. Responding can help to increase the number of reviews and the sentiment of reviews, and will thereby drive better results in LSAs and GBP.
  3. Reviews are essential not only in helping your position and visibility in the local map pack and LSAs, but they also are a key predicator of consumer purchasing behaviors.
  4. Providing an exceptional customer experience is your best path to getting more reviews and better reviews.
  5. There are a ton of home services review platforms but we recommend prioritizing the big 3 and making sure you’re consistent there.
  6. Never engage in review-gating. This practice can get your listings banned and potentially trigger regulatory actions against your business.
  7. Use an ABC / HEARD approach to customer experience and review responses. Portray a professional image for your business and be consistent.
  8. The quest for perfect reviews is a trap! Customers are less likely to trust 5-star companies.

Turnkey Reviews Management for the Home Services Industry

In today’s connected world, managing your online reputation is more crucial than ever, with 88% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Every negative review left unanswered is a missed opportunity to protect your brand’s image. That’s why our team at Mediagistic specializes in the day-to-day management of your online reviews, ensuring that each comment—positive or negative—receives a prompt, professional response. Our service not only helps to safeguard your reputation but also boosts your local SEO by actively engaging with your Google My Business reviews.

Don’t let another review go unanswered. Contact Mediagistic today to learn more about how our review management services can elevate your business and keep your reputation spotless.

Eddie Childs content strategist and social media marketing expertEddie Childs is the Director of Corporate Marketing for Mediagistic. His writing has been published by a range of websites and publications including Copypress.com, Jambase.com, NFLSoup.com, FootballNation.com, and Boating World, KnowAtlanta, Men’s Book, Cobb in Focus, TCL, Blush, Charged Electric Vehicles, Business to Business, and Catalyst magazines. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on Linkedin.

Featured image via iStock

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