Good feedback and reviews are absolutely essential in a service-based industry. Before a customer hires you, they most likely checked your reviews online or asked others in the community about your professionalism and expertise. What do online reviews say about your business? Are they from the people you want to be leaving reviews, and what can you do if you have negative feedback that is affecting your business? Customer reviews are a powerful tool. Make sure yours are working in your favor and learn more about how to harness this free yet powerful tool to grow your business.
Who do I ask for reviews?
Any customer can leave a review for your business. On some sites, they don’t even have to verify that they purchased a service from you to leave a review. This can be scary since you are open to fake and negative reviews. However, gathering reviews from happy customers will make your business shine online.
People who are unhappy tend to be outspoken, but satisfied customers will almost always be willing to leave a good review if they know where to go and that it is important to you. Guiding customers through the process will lead to more and better online reviews for you business.
While you can go back into your history to ask former customers for reviews, the best practice is to ask right after you have completed the work. Then the experience is fresh in their minds and they will still have good recall about your service and any surprises. If you exceeded their expectations, they are most likely to be excited about it immediately after the project is complete.
How do I ask for reviews?
If asking for positive reviews feels like patting yourself on the back, there are plenty of ways to request satisfied customers leave reviews. They understand that your business is dependent on feedback from customers and are generally willing to do so if they know where to go and what to write. About 90% of customers read reviews before making a purchase. Your current customers probably asked around or searched online for reviews before signing a contract with your business. They know how customer opinions sway future purchases.
Build the review process into completing a project. Instead of having to think about it and plan for each individual customer, automate this process. Ways you can do that include:
- Schedule an email to be sent when a project is complete
- Send a link through text message or SMS
- Include information on how and where to leave a review on your paperwork and invoices
- Have a dedicated form on your website for collecting reviews
- Ask in person (Think about when you go to a store and as they hand you the receipt, the cashier mentions that you can review your purchase on the business website.)
- Find an automation or tool that will send reminders to customers to leave reviews
- Ask on social media
Where customers can review my business
You want to make sure other potential customer can access all of your business reviews. So where is the best place for customers to leave reviews? If you ask for reviews in more than one place, the chances are low that someone will visit multiple sites. Pick the one that is most important to you and build up your reputation on that site. You may pick any of the popular online sites for business reviews. Chance are customers will review your business where they spend the most time or where they found your services. Giving them lots of options to find you will result in more reviews total.
When you search on Google for a business (like “plumbers near me”), Google provides a list of businesses that includes their address, phone number, hours and rating. This rating is out of five stars and is in a highly visible location right next to the business name. These star ratings are an average of the ratings left by customers for your business on Google. You can add your Google My Business link to your emails to prompt customers to leave reviews.
Nearly everyone you interact with has a Facebook profile so it’s a great platform to focus your efforts to obtain more positive reviews. Facebook reviews also work on the five-star system. Customers can leave a rating plus a comment about their experience with your services. This appears at the top of your business page.
Those who are searching for services on Home Advisor know what they are looking for. They are probably ready to make a purchase or hire a professional to complete a home improvement project. Your ranking on this site will be important to these customers in making a final decision on who to hire. Customers have to have a registered account with Home Advisor in order to leave a review (which might be a deterrent for some customers). They leave a one through five star rating for overall performance, quality, customer service and value for the money. They can also leave a detailed comment.
Formerly Angie’s List, only verified reviews are published to the site. While they do have paid premium memberships, all registered users can access information about the ratings and reviews of a business. Businesses are rated one through five stars and this ranking is based on price, quality, responsiveness, punctuality and professionalism. Detailed written reviews are also accessible by members.
People use Yelp to find all kinds of local services, from restaurants and hair salons to plumbers and moving companies. Customers can rank the business one through five stars and this average score shows up right next to the business name in the search results. Written reviews are also highly prioritized on Yelp, getting lots of views because of their prominent location. While Yelp discourages business owners from specifically asking for reviews on the site, having an up-to-date profile and including links to your page on client communication will boost your reviews.
Other social and industry specific sites allow users to leave reviews of businesses they use. They all have different standards of who can leave reviews and how to establish a profile on the site. If you see that you are getting a lot of business from a certain website, you should consider focusing your efforts on increasing your reviews on that site.
What information should I request when asking for a review?
Providing your customers with a link to leave a review on the platform of your choice is a great way to start getting feedback about your services. It will increase your reputation in the community and online and is easy to add to your email signature or on invoices.
However, the information left in a review on a third party site may not be all that useful to you. While you may have 50 five-star reviews on Facebook, if customers don’t leave detailed comments, you really don’t know what they appreciated most about your services. What may be more useful is asking a few specific questions in addition to a star or grade rating. A large blank text box is intimidating for many customers so make it easy for them to think about specific aspects of the project for better reviews.
You can easily develop your own internal review system with a short form. A few selected questions will help focus your customer on things you would most like feedback on. It also gives you the chance to let them know where else they can leave reviews. Once they have answered your questions they may find it easier to write something informative on sites where there is no prompting.
Some questions to consider using on your feedback form include:
- How often did a problem occur?
- What did you think of our product/ service/ workmanship?
- How likely are you to recommend our company?
- What changed in your home after this project?
- Do you feel our service is worth the cost?
- How easy did we make the process for you?
Asking open ended questions allow the customer to think about and articulate exact what they liked and didn’t like about your services. You could ask for an overall star rating, but adding open ended questions will give you more information about how to continue to improve your customer’s experience.
For larger projects, don’t wait until the project is over to ask for feedback. During a remodel or construction project, check in with your customers regularly to be sure the project is progressing the way they hoped. This is the best way to anticipate any problems and make changes before they become issues that will cost you a lot of time and money.
What do I do with customer feedback?
Now that you have a method for collecting customer feedback, what do you do with their comments? Customer reviews are a treasure and can be used to leverage more closed deals for your business. Use this content wisely to improve your online reputation, land more deals and make more money.
Here are a few ways you can use customer feedback:
- Start a conversation. When someone leaves feedback, be sure to interact with them. Thank customers for positive feedback and tell them it was a pleasure to work with them. If they leave a three or four star review, ask for constructive criticism. Find out what you could have done better to earn that five star review. If they leave negative feedback, get to the bottom of the problem. You can’t force them to remove negative comments, but if you fix the problem quickly, they may update their review to reflect the fact that you were responsive.
- Keep track of your feedback. This is the best way to gauge how your business is perceived. If you find a fake review, learn how to contact the administrators on the site and be prepared to prove that you have never provided services to the individual in questions.
- Post reviews on your website. If you have glowing reviews on sites like Google My Business or Facebook, you can publish those comment on your own website. Customers will usually be willing to give a comment about your service you can use on your website or you can do a video interview where the customer has a chance to talk about their experience and show off the renovations you completed.
- Share it on social sites. Share your five-star reviews on your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter page. You can tag the customer to extend the organic reach of the post, and they are likely to share their published comment as well.
- Make changes. Don’t ignore feedback that is less than perfect. Neutral or negative reviews are your opportunity to grow. Take customer concerns seriously and make a plan to change your strategy or customer service to improve your ratings. Of course, you can’t change the fact that someone didn’t like the color they chose for their front door. But if there are multiple comments that they didn’t know when to expect or the project took longer than anticipated, think about how you can make positive improvements in those areas.
- Share feedback with your employees, subcontractors and suppliers. These middlemen rarely get the credit they deserve for making your business run smoothly. Make their day by sharing positive feedback from customers. This will boost morale and motivate your employees to continue delivering high-quality work day in and day out.
In 2020, it was estimated that 87% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase with a local business. Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth advertising. It is essential to know what is being said about your company and to be part of the conversation. Organizing your feedback and giving customers a chance to express themselves will boost your overall ratings and help you be known as the trade pro that listens to customers.
Feedback and reviews are a valuable source of information on how your business can grow and what your reputation is in the community. Take advantage of the reviews that already exist on social sites and create a plan to ask for feedback regularly. Once you are known as the five-star plumber, electrician or appliance repair professional in town, you will close more deals and command a higher price for your services.
At trades.org we know how to grow your reputation and make you shine online. Our reputation management services collects feedback from customers, pushes it to your social profiles and helps you make a plan to improve your services. We want to see your business succeed and we know that customer satisfaction is a key part of that equation.