Your company can have an attractive website and a high level of online visibility, but all your marketing efforts could be for nothing if you’re lacking great customer reviews. In fact, 88% of customers look up company reviews before trying a local business and read an average of 10 comments per location.
Consumers trust customer reviews at the nearly the same level as personal word-of-mouth recommendations, which means a handful of good reviews can make or break your business. Here’s what your HVAC or home services company needs to know about acquiring local business reviews.
Reviews Need to be Earned and Lobbied For
Customer reviews are not easily acquired — they need to be asked for and earned. The easy part of generating positive local business reviews is providing superior service. The two types of customers who are most likely to review your business are the ones looking to vent after a terrible experience and the (rarer) ones looking to praise your wonderful service. The good news is that gaining good reviews is entirely in your control. By simply providing good customer care, you’re more likely to generate positive reviews and won’t have to try deceptive or illegal ways to hide negative ones.
The harder part is soliciting customer reviews after the purchase. It’s possible to do this manually by training your service representatives and technicians to naturally solicit reviews during service calls. But you’ll see the best results if you combine this strategy with software-based review gathering solutions. Depending on a business’ specific needs and goals, we often will recommend using a range of different review software options, including our own ReputationBuilder platform.
This two-tiered strategy — which leverages employee training to solicit reviews in combination with software solutions to monitor and manage those reviews — is a very effective and affordable way to increase the number of reviews a company receives.
Gaining Positive Comments in an Increasingly Competitive Market
Because of the sheer power that a positive review can have on a business, more companies than ever are trying to solicit reviews, comments, photos, and shares of their products or services. For a more extreme example, some restaurants have started noting which menu items are the most photogenic to increase Instagram shares in the same way they’ll note whether something contains peanuts.
Savvy marketers know that these reviews do more than provide valuable word-of-mouth recommendations: they also create content for their websites, curate posts around social media, and contribute to local search optimization. Someone who leaves a review of your business on Yelp isn’t just saying that your business is good; they’re working to push you above your competitors and toward the top of Yelp and Google’s Local Search Results.
Review Acquisition isn’t a Short-Term Marketing Tactic
In many ways, online reviews have taught the general public more about data analysis than any of their high school math classes. On average, consumers will read four to six online reviews before trusting a business. Subsequently, a HVAC dealer with 500 reviews is more likely be trusted over a business with only one or two total reviews.
Furthermore, customers have started noting the dates of reviews. If a business has 5-star reviews from 2010, but none in the past five years, they wonder if it’s gone out of business or gone downhill. This means that your company can’t build out its online reputation and then stop — true local reviews need to be built out over time as part of a comprehensive, long-term marketing plan.
Successful Review Collection for Your Business and Industry
If this whole article has left you terrified about receiving a negative review or your lack or current comments, don’t be afraid. Your home services company certainly won’t need to have as many reviews as the hottest restaurant in town to create a positive experience. Some industries lend themselves to reviews more than others, and depending on your market, your local service might only need 5-10 reviews to stand out.
Mediagistic understands the inherent value of local business reviews for home services companies. These customer reviews not only help differentiate a company from its competitors, but they also increase consumer engagement and amplify your word-of-mouth reputation. Find out more about our online review monitoring services and software options, and let us show you how we can leverage the review gathering process into improved local SEO and online visibility.
Christopher St. Jean is the Digital Marketing Strategy Manager for Mediagistic, and he places an emphasis on analytics and optimization. He’s passionate about helping companies and clients see the “big picture” not only by acquiring qualified traffic, but by maximizing each site visit to ensure the best possible chance of a conversion via A/B and multivariate testing. Connect with him on Linkedin.