The idea of reading comments from real-life customers on review websites can sound like a risky proposition. These days, you can’t afford not to engage with sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, Google Plus and Citysearch. Some recent studies have shown that the majority of consumers trust online reviews just as much as a personal referral. Homeowners have become diligent about reading online reviews before they hire a builder or contractor for an expensive and complex home repair or renovation. Knowing that 90 percent of consumers say that online reviews influence their buying decision, leveraging online reviews is a smart element in an overall marketing strategy for builders. Here are five reasons why your business needs online reviews:
- Referrals Come from Reviews, and That’s Good for Business
Online reviews can be complicated, but in the end, they’re good for your business. The burgeoning world of online reviews has opened up a new frontier for word-of-mouth marketing and are a powerful source of free advertising for your services. Online reviews add a legitimacy that you can’t produce independently, and the authenticity will inspire confidence in your work and drive sales.
- Online Review Sites Offer a Forum to Respond to Negative Reviews
The only thing worse than reading a negative review about your business is not knowing what people are saying about you online. Wouldn’t you want to know that a customer had a bad experience and have the opportunity to resolve the conflict, rather than have that person tell all their friends and family? While a negative review can be disheartening, it doesn’t have to damage your reputation. It’s in your best interest to not delete reviews you don’t like, you have a responsibility to respond to that customer. The trick to handling a negative review is to respond quickly, with humility and grace, and offer a real solution to that unhappy customer. It’s also important to encourage customers to post positive reviews about their experience. Having a balance of positive and negative reviews will help potential customers make a sound decision about your company.
- Encouraging Customer Reviews Creates Community
Engaging with customers on review sites like Angie’s List is a good business practice and reflects your commitment to the community. Just as sites like Angie’s List offer advice to potential customers, responding to questions posed by potential clients can help boost your audience, demonstrate the ethical way in which you conduct business and show the people of your community that you’re invested in making their neighborhood great.
- It’s Worth Knowing What People Are Saying About Your Business
Take the time to regularly monitor your business’ reviews to ensure that your online reputation remains unscathed and that online word-of-mouth continues to drive projects and revenue to your business. While Angie’s List is the gold standard for small businesses, you should also consider monitoring HomeAdvisor and other sites that are specific to the home building trade. In addition, set up a Google Alert, which will notify you when key words specific to your business appear online.
- Sweetening the Deal Means More (Good) Reviews For Your Business
The most common first question is simple: “How do I start getting reviews?” The answer is equally simple: ask for them. In addition to following up on reviews you already have (which can also re-engage former customers), follow up after every project to ask homeowners if they are happy with your services and provide them with a link to a review website. You can also provide incentives such as discounts, promotions or gift cards for loyal and vocal customers. Finally, make sure your website has a section that is devoted to authentic and positive reviews that appropriately reflect the work of your company.