Don’t Fake It: Why You Need Authentic Online Reviews Now More Than Ever
Online reviews play a pivotal role in your ability to acquire new customers. If you’re starting a new business or trying to boost your overall rating, it can be tempting to enlist the help of friends and family to provide 5-star reviews. However, fake or insincere reviews can often do more harm than good, resulting in a negative impact on your local business’s reputation.
In a recent survey by BrightLocal, 67% of people said they question the authenticity of reviews. Consumers are reading multiple reviews to get a better understanding of your business, but they want legitimate opinions—80% of consumers believe they’ve read at least one fake review in the last year.
As a local business owner, getting a steady stream of reviews is important for your overall success. If you need to increase the number of reviews you have or you want to improve your average rating, there are several ways you can do so organically without resorting to asking your mom for help.
How Do I Get More Reviews?
It can be just as simple to ask your customers to leave you a review as it is to ask your friends and family. Please keep in mind that different review sites have different solicitation policies, so ensure you are following their guidelines.
As an air conditioning contractor, you interact directly with your customers inside their homes or businesses, giving you a great opportunity to ask them personally for a review as soon as you complete their service request. This is also a good way to verify that they are satisfied with the quality of your work before you leave, so if you didn’t meet their expectations, you can resolve any issues instead of after a posted review.
Most consumers understand the importance online reviews can have on your business. According to GlobalWebIndex, 47% of all internet users worldwide say they post reviews about a product, company, or service each month.
The easier you can make the process for a potential reviewer to find your business’s profile online, the more likely they are to leave you a review. So, with nearly half of the population leaving a review these days, it’s important that they can find review sites quickly and easily. You can do this by having links to your profiles in the footer of your website or perhaps a simple QR code on an invoice or piece of collateral which can direct them to a webpage that lists direct links on the various review sites.
Another option that works well is to send a follow-up email asking if they’re satisfied with your service and prompting them to leave a review. Doing so also improves your customer experience by showing that you care and allowing them to share any issues they might have noticed in the days following their service appointment.
How Do I Get Better Reviews?
Some businesses get a fair amount of reviews but struggle to raise their average scores. A recent study by GatherUp showed that the likelihood of someone purchasing from a business went up when that business had an average score of 4.0 to 4.7—making it a great goal to work toward if you’re not in that range. But how do you ensure that you’re getting good reviews?
One of the easiest, and most obvious ways, to get great reviews is to provide GREAT service by providing just a little bit more than is expected. And how do you determine what is expected from each customer of yours? This is best accomplished by setting expectations as soon as you arrive at your customer’s location. You can do this by asking simple questions of them, like “To provide you with the best service possible, what are your expectations of me, and what are your expectations when I’m done with this job?”
While this may seem trivial, and you may assume you know what your customer’s expectations are, you won’t truly know until you ask them. Some of them may be the best practices that you already follow (e.g., putting on shoe covers before entering their house or walking on carpet), but they may be unique preferences like you entering through the garage versus the front door.
Also, always before you leave, ask them if you met or exceeded all of their expectations. If they say yes, encourage them to tell the world about their experience, and if they’re not satisfied, take that opportunity to truly and honestly find out what their expectations are to see if you can meet or exceed them. By spending the time to do this, which very few businesses do today, you may find that this strategy could result in them referring a friend, coming back for more business the next time they need service, or leaving review that describe how you went above and beyond and that everyone should use your services – which is exactly the type of referral or review that you are looking for.
How Should I Respond?
Almost all consumers (96%) say they read businesses’ responses to reviews, which means it’s critical to actively monitor and reply to the ones you receive. As service-based businesses know, consumers can easily fire off a review when emotions are high, and it’s important for you as a business to respond to their concerns. Not only should you address concerns, but your customers will appreciate a response when they leave you a positive review as well.
A unique response to each customer would be ideal—if they took the time to leave you a review, it’s best to thank them by doing the same. However, if you don’t have the resources to do that at this time, you may consider using a similar reply to each review you receive, based on the score. To ease the burden of replying, create a draft response that can be used for each.
If a customer leaves a review of 4 or 5 stars, try giving a simple reply such as, “Thank you for your review. We’re happy to hear that our service met your needs and we look forward to working with you again.”
With a 3-star review, you have the opportunity to ask for feedback and improve your business. A response similar to the following is a good place to start: “Thanks for leaving us a review. We’re always looking for ways to improve our services and our customer experience. If you would be willing, we’d love to talk to you more about your experience and how we can do better.”
If you’ve received a 2- or 1-star review, you must address their concerns and find ways to remedy the situation. “It is important to us that every customer is satisfied with our service. We’d love to remedy the situation and ensure that your expectations are met. Someone from our team will reach out immediately.”
By responding to reviews, you show potential customers that you’re actively listening and continually working to improve your business. Unhappy customers may never be fully satisfied, but by responding to their reviews, you show future potential customers that you care. Customers are also paying attention to how fast your business responds to reviews: 20% of respondents to a BrightLocal survey said they expect a response within 24 hours, and 39% want a business to respond in 3 days or less. Keeping up on responses in a timely way can add a lot of pressure to you and your team, so you may consider hiring a professional to manage this aspect of your reputation for you. If you’re handling it yourself, creating a system to ensure you’re always responding to reviews can help you stay on top of the task—set some time aside on a specific day each week to monitor and respond to them.
Overall, online reviews matter where a BrightLocal survey found that 76% of consumers trust reviews they read online as much as personal recommendations—they are that powerful! Consumers will continue to rely on them to find the best local businesses so having a process in place to provide the best service possible needs to be a key part of your marketing playbook. Create a system to help you gain new reviews, improve your score, and respond to them quickly as a healthy reputation online will set you apart from your competition and will result in you being the clear choice which you will see in financial gains for the business and all of its employees.
And if you’d like to learn more about this topic or if you have any ideas for any other topics, please email me at Michael.Sauer@Scorpion.co.
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