I was looking up carpet companies on my iPhone a week or two ago and came across the photo on this blog post (Click to enlarge). I was looking for a carpet company by my home and clicked on this one companies’ only review they had on Google Places. It was a 1 star review. I’ve only showed you a sample of the review. You can tell that it is not pretty! The customer was anything but happy. I feel sorry for this carpet business but not sorry enough to try him out. He probably isn’t as bad as the reviewer said. So why did I not use him? Because he has a pretty bad review and he never did anything about it. I was in a hurry to find a reputable company I can trust, and not babysit. Because of that 1 star review and my situation, I went elsewhere. So, what could this owner do about this review and those in the future, and what can you do to protect your online reputation?
The New Web Has Changed Everything
Marketers today are calling all these social media sites, blogs, videos and so on, “The New Web.” The New Web (TNW) can be a win win for both the consumer and the business owner. The consumer loves TNW because he (or she) can express himself. He can rant. He can rave. He can tell the world whether he likes something or hates it with a vengeance. It takes only seconds to post things online. It takes only milliseconds now to do web searches. It takes no time at all before a user’s friends and the rest of the web to discover the pros and cons of a consumer’s experience. The New Web is hear to stay and businesses can make this a win for them too. It takes very little time to do one simple thing: Engage.
Engage with Your Customers On and Offline
The quality contractors I know tend to respect their customers privacy, which is a good thing. However, I think many of them tend to be a little intimidated by their clients and don’t feel they can engage with them during and after the job. I think it should be the opposite. I’ve grown up my whole life in the trades, watching my dad run his awesome painting business. I know many of his clients on a first name basis. I’ve been to their house, been invited to parties, even gone out to lunch with some of them. Now that I’m on the east coast, I still have contact with some of my dad’s clients. These folks are wealthy and busy people, yet they still have time to talk with their contractor. Why? Because I was not afraid of them. I stay connected to them, and my dad has done that with them for years. Once you get to know your clients, and serve them well, they should be a customer for life. If you have a bump in the road during the job, do the right thing and fix it. In the end, engage with your customers and make sure they will give you a big “hug” when you leave the job. By engaging with clients on a personal level, you will avoid most nasty online reviews. BUT what happens when you do get a bad one? Respond
Respond To The Review
When a customer or prospect is upset about something, and they know how to use The New Web comfortably, they’ll probably vent by writing a bad review. Don’t sweat this all too much. Most websites like Angie’s List, Kudzu, Yelp and Google allow business owners to respond publicly to reviews, especially negative ones. This is your opportunity to write a nice and simple, not confrontational, response. If you respond and act professional, most web users that will stumble upon your review will make note that you, the business owner, responded well to the review/complaint. That goes a long way. The bigger, more well-known companies, will usually get hit the hardest: plumber, roofers and HVAC companies. These trades live by their online reputation and have to respond to the reviews.
Responding online means you need to budget time each week to take a peek online about what people are saying about you. One way is to sign up for Google Alerts. You can be notified when your name appears online by email or text message.
Maybe this post was nothing new to you. If it was, go out and protect your online reputation and start engaging with your customers. They love you…and make them a customer for life. Do you currently respond to reviews online? How do you engage with your clients? Love to hear your thoughts on this subject.