Online reviews have been around for well over a decade now. It grew in popularity thanks to services like Amazon.com. It then began to find a place in the home improvement industry, especially in Google’s local search and services like Yelp. Consumers are relying less and less on what their neighbor’s think about a service provider and putting more faith in the reviews they see and read about online. Can you blame them? Most of us don’t connect much with our neighbors anymore. We whip out our smartphone to do our research now!
So why is it important that your home improvement company keeps up with getting more reviews online?
Mobile Search Dominates
First, mobile search now outranks desktop searches. Software companies are making it easier for consumers to write reviews using their smartphones. Therefore, it is getting easier for a home improvement contractor to ask and attain more reviews from their customers because of the use of smartphones. I have discovered that it is easier to ask a customer in person to write a review if they have a smartphone. Doing this from a desktop normally takes a few extra steps.
When a consumer searches for a service provider from his or her smartphone, reviews are dominating as well.
Here is an example. I opened up my Google Maps App on my iPhone. I typed in the following in the search results, “painters in San Diego.” Look at the results and how reviews are prominent! Notice that it does not show the total amount of reviews on the app unless I click to learn more. This is actually a blessing in disguise! One has to click to learn more! Yet what is important is your overall rating. We’ll talk more about that below.
Maintain a Good Rating
People tend to be more reactive than proactive. If you do not have a lot of reviews, all it takes is for 1 or 2 bad reviews from a sour client or past employee to make you take the defensive, reactive stance. By keeping up on reviews and maintaining a good overall rating — you will be ahead of the game. Whereas a couple bad reviews won’t bother you so much…and you can sleep at night!
I have seen a number of home improvement companies that do not work hard at asking for online reviews. I know that these companies do great work overall. However, here is where the problem occurs: If your company does a good job on someone’s property, a customer is happy and satisfied. Chances are he or she will not feel obligated to write a review because your company did what you said you would do. The online reviews happen more organically when your company makes a mistake that really upsets the customer OR when your company goes beyond the norm (extra mile). So a customer will write a negative review if they were pissed off or they will write a review when they were overwhelmed by you going the extra mile.
Yet let’s face it, most of the time, we run a business to do what we say we will do. Our goal is not to piss off a client, right? It is also difficult to ALWAYS go the extra mile on every project. So getting and maintaining reviews online is a challenge. Yet if you are not careful, your company can be in danger of having an overall rating that is not impressive.
To get past that, your company has to have a plan to actively ask for reviews.
This cannot stop! It must continue to be part of your business plan.
Reviews Do Get Old
One final reason to continue to get reviews. I have seen companies have a review blitz. I watched one paint company basically have NO reviews on a review site called “Houzz.” In 2-3 days, this paint company had over 30 reviews. It looks like what they must have done is emailed or called customers asking to write a review on Houzz. Good for them! It worked! Great job, right? Yes and no! It is nice to see that this company now has a strong competitive edge over their competitors.
Yet what began to happen is that the reviews began to taper off on Houzz. All reviews on that site have a date! So you’ll see 30 reviews that happened all at once and then nothing for almost 9 months. Consumers will just be getting smarter in the years to come. They can look at the dates and know that those dates get stale. They might be able to figure out that the company had a review blitz.
Having a more consistent and steady approach to building and maintaining reviews will always prove to be more effective in the long run. You won’t have to worry about a negative review here and there.
As you enter another year of business, make sure you keep up on online reviews. It has many benefits!