Look back at the last time you needed a new service provider, whether it was a new barber, landscaper or handyman. Did you blindly pick the first option you found? Or did you rely on your friends and family for a referral, and do further research to see whether they’d fit your needs? Now, think back to the last time your purchased something online. Did the yellow star rating beneath the product name influence your purchase?
Word-of-mouth advertising has never been so prevalent and powerful in our society as it is now. People once relied on their friends and family to refer service providers; now websites such as Yelp, Facebook, Google Reviews and Nextdoor have become their go-tos.
Customers in need of services like plumbing and drain cleaning want to make sure they are hiring a trustworthy provider who can get the job done and provide quality service. Many use social review sites during their research. In fact, 88 percent of customers read online reviews to determine a company’s quality, and 72 percent say that positive reviews increase their trust in local business). Online reviews can give you credibility or help you stand out immediately. If your star rating and reviews are positive, more people will pick up the phone and call or click into your website.
What are social review sites?
Whereas social media sites start with posts you create to engage your followers, social review sites are crowdsourced, meaning the content on them comes from your customers.
These sites allow customers to give direct feedback on your products and services that can be viewed by the public. They’re particularly beneficial for small businesses, who may not have the same marketing resources that draw customers to bigger, more prominent businesses.
How can you benefit?
Having a presence on social review sites puts your name on the radar of people searching for your services. Having a positive reputation on these sites can in turn have a positive impact on business. Since the customer feedback on these sites is honest and unfiltered, and comes directly from people who have used your services before, the information provided is trustworthy and valuable.
These sites also show your strengths and weaknesses. When customers write valid negative reviews, they are giving you direct feedback on how to improve.
Which social review site is best for you?
As is the case with social media platforms, not every social review site is fitting for your business. Make sure you're spending time wisely and using the sites that are best suited for your business.
- Yelp is used by more than 142 million consumers each month to find the best-rated business in their community. Users can give the businesses they frequent ratings ranging from one-star to five-star. The platform makes it easy for users to add comments on their experience and pictures of their visit/service. Plumbers and drain cleaners should look into claiming their Yelp page on the website and track and respond to reviews as they come in. According to Forbes, businesses that claim their free Yelp business page generate, on average, $8,000 in incremental revenue each year.
- Angie’s List allows people to search for top-rated local service providers, including both plumbing and drain cleaning services. Angie’s List offers free memberships for businesses, but there are also two paid options for more invested service.
- Nextdoor, a private social network that connects people with others in their neighborhood, has an option for businesses to “claim their business page.” You won’t get access to the conversations Nextdoor users are having, but you will be able to see and reply to comments shared with you and receive private messages. You’ll also get access to a color-coded map that shows you where you have been recommended by others on Nextdoor.
- As one of the most popular and respected consumer advocacy groups, Better Business Bureau allows people to search for services by location. Site listings require you to submit information and pay a fee.
- If you have a Facebook page for your business, you can enable Facebook Ratings & Reviews so your followers can rate and give feedback on your business right on your page. If you’re already managing a Facebook page, it makes sense to have reviews and ratings be part of that too.
- Google Reviews is becoming increasingly influential in the social review space. It is tied to Google Maps, and so when people search for you or your contact information on Google they’ll come across your reviews. Any customer with a Google account can leave you a review. To start leveraging Google Reviews, simply claim your free Google listing.
Dealing with negative feedback
And as the adage goes, a happy customer will tell 10 people about their experience—and an unhappy customer will tell 100. It’s much easier to criticize than compliment. But you can turn a bad review into a positive for your business with the right reaction.
You can do this by responding directly to the negative comment as quickly as possible. Apologize for the bad experience or service and let the customer know you feel their pain. Most importantly, respond in a way that will encourage the unhappy customer to give your business another try. Ask them for specific ways their experience could’ve been improved, and even offer them a coupon or discount they can use with you in the future.
By responding in this way, you’re creating a positive customer service experience and showing other customers that although you might’ve made a mistake, you’re still willing to try to do the right thing and fix it.
Encouraging customers to write reviews
Since it's easier for customers to write negative reviews than positive ones, be proactive about trying to get satisfied customers to share their experiences.
When you finish a job, follow up with a phone call or email asking the customer to review the service they were provided. Explain the importance of these reviews as a tool for measuring your own performance. If you want to take it a step further, offer prizes for completing a review—whether its positive or negative—such as a gift card, raffle entry or coupon for future services. People tend to find time to do things when they know they will get something out of it. Also, make it easier for people to find your page on review sites by giving them direct links on your social media accounts, business cards and website.to your page.
Let your brand enthusiasts be your marketing team
Websites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Nextdoor, BBB, Facebook and Google Reviews can guide the perception potential customers build of your business before they even make that first phone call to you. Plumbing and drain cleaning professionals can steer this perception by staying on top of the reviews they receive, responding to any negative reviews and encouraging customers with a positive experience to become your online brand ambassadors. A smart company that carefully maintains its social review pages can improve relationships with current customers, forge connections with new ones and raise the bottom line.
This is the second of a two-part series that helps plumbers and drain cleaners use social media and the internet for their marketing needs. In our last post, we discussed how to leverage social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to promote your business, reach more people and build your brand perception.
The Drain Business is a series of articles written to help plumbing and drain contractors build and grow their business. For more resources like this, subscribe to MyTana's newsletter, where we'll keep you up-to-date and informed.