6 Do’s and Don’ts for Soliciting Customer Reviews
If you are in the home remodeling, repair and maintenance business these days, it’s critical to keep an eye on the stars by soliciting customer reviews.
If you see your Google review score has less than 3.3 stars, it may be time to ask customers for more feedback, according to Podium, which helps companies manage customer reviews. Podium’s research indicates consumers won’t engage with businesses that don’t have an average customer review rating of at least 3.3 stars.
“Third party review sites have been making a big impact in how customers find and use websites,” notes Carl Sorsensen of Sites4Contractors, which builds and markets contractor websites. “Contractors with little to no reviews are often not looked upon as serious companies to a searcher. Companies with negative reviews are often avoided.”
If you don’t think soliciting customer reviews reviews matter, read this article by Billy Stutz, senior marketing manager for plumbing supplies wholesaler Ferguson.
The bottom line is that there is a lot of research showing homeowners use third-party customer review sites to find contractors and the more reviews a contractor has, the less likely it is that negative reviews will throw off their score.
If you are new to the customer review game, the first thing you need to do is confirm which online review sites matter most to your business. The way to do that is to search for customer reviews of your business and your competitors to see which sites have the most reviews.
You can double check what you find with this ranking of 9 essential review sites for home contractors, as well as this article, to get a rundown on the pros and cons of the best sites for home remodeling, repair and maintenance contractors.
Many experts argue Google Reviews should appear near the top of most contractors’ lists if for no other reason than it can boost their search engine rankings. If you have not created a Google My Business profile, do so. It only takes about 10 minutes and enables you to update the information that Google displays in local search results. Having a profile also allows you to respond to customer reviews, which is a critical part of managing your online reputation.
Below are five tips for soliciting customer reviews once you’ve decided which sites best meet your needs:
Set the expectation:
After closing a sale or completing a service call, tell the customer you will be sending them a request to write a review with their final invoice. Explain to them how important reviews are to building your business.
Make it easy:
While the overwhelming majority of consumers say they are willing to leave a customer review, those with complaints are much more likely to take the time to write one than those who are happy. “One of the biggest challenges many of our customers deal with is trying to build out their reviews online,” says Carl Sorensen, whose firm Sites4Contractors.com specializes in building and marketing websites for contractors. To meet that challenge, Sites4Contractors launched a review collection app in November 2018 that its clients can use to create and send branded emails and texts thanking customers for their business and asking them for their feedback. Customers who open the messages can click on a link that takes them to a landing page where they can select one to five stars. Those who select 4 or more stars are provided links to whichever third-party review sites the contractor designates. Customers who click three or fewer stars are taken to an internal feedback form where they can leave comments. Sorensen said clients who have used the gatekeeping app immediately reported a jump in customer reviews. Similar apps, which are sometimes referred to as “review funnel” apps, are available from Podium, Birdeye and Capture Review.
Don’t be bashful:
When soliciting customer reviews, prominently display a link to your favored customer review platforms on your website, business cards and work vehicles. You can also solicit reviews at the bottom of customer invoices with the message: “We appreciate your business and if you were happy with our service, we encourage you to share your experience at www.xyz.com.”
Incentivize your employees:
Offer field techs a bonus every time one of their customers writes a positive review.
: Businesses need to be aware of growing resistance to gatekeeping among third-party review sites such as Yelp, which penalizes businesses that actively solicit customer reviews. In April 2018, Google created a stir when it added a new line to its policy governing business reviews that appears to prohibit gatekeeping. “Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers,” reads the line. In October, Birdeye announced tweaks to its review request templates designed to comply with Google’s new policy. Sites4Contractors has addressed the issue by including a toggle switch in its app its clients can use to turn off the gatekeeping function. While it remains unclear whether, or how, Google will change its algorithms to deal with gatekeeping, contractors should tread lightly.
Don’t be too pushy when soliciting customer reviews:
The caveat to all the advice above about soliciting customer reviews is don’t be pushy. One of the reasons Yelp is so adamant that businesses not solicit reviews is because it can result in bad experiences for customers, including emails asking them to fill out customer review forms used for gatekeeping and being coerced into filling out a review by a technician parked on their doorstep.