One of the beautiful things about living in this day and age is that we can find out information about businesses even if we don't personally know anyone that has used them. We know that all we need to do is head on over to Google and type in business + reviews, and we have all the information that we need right at our fingertips.
Unfortunately, what this also means is that now more than ever businesses must be sure that all their employees are being courteous and giving excellent customer service because there IS an eye in the sky and it's called the internet! Gone are the days where a business owner or employee can be rude to a customer and get away with it.
Let's say you own a plumbing business and Sally has an emergency situation in her house and requires a plumber. She calls you up, and one of your service guys heads down to assess the situation.
Well, your service techs girlfriend just left him yesterday, he is behind on his mortgage payment and his pet parakeet Simpson just passed away, so he is a bit irritable, to say the least. Sally starts getting on his case about how this has to be done by such and such time and the two of them bump heads and though your guy fixes the problem, what do you think Sally is going to do now?
Yes. Head on over to Yelp or good ol' google plus and leave a negative review about your guys "attitude problem". You know what the bad news is? Reviews are forever. Once they are up, they're up, for the better or worse of it.
The good news is with a simple strategy you can literally dominate and take your local market by storm:
Give a damn. That's basically what the entire strategy breaks down to. Luckily, the local market is a lot easier to control as far as rep management and reviews go than nationwide companies and big brands.
We can't eliminate the negative, so we have to do our part to make sure that we are bringing in as many positive reviews as possible.
You are going to want to make sure that you have a review strategy in place. What do I mean by that? You want an organized and scale-able way to get your customers to leave reviews.
The truth of the matter is a client with a negative experience with you or your business is far more likely to open up their computer all fired up from the experience and pound away a negative review and bash the submit button then someone who is pleased and happy with your service is. That's just the way it goes.
So, what's the solution?
Make it as easy as possible for your customers to leave reviews for you.
You can use something like Whitespark's review handout generator to make really nice pdf's with instructions for your customers to leave you a review. The cool thing about this is it lets you attach your company logo and branding on it as well.
Make it part of your workflow, whenever you finish working with a client send them an email asking them if they were happy with the service and if they would mind leaving you an honest review. Then attach the review handout that you created over at Whitespark and you're done!
You can also incentivize the process by letting your customers know that you are running a promotion where you are taking $20 off the bill for customers who agree to take the time to leave an honest review.
If you are using the WordPress platform for your website, you can also use a plugin called Project Supremacy to make the review process quick and painless. With this plugin, you can install a review widget on your site where customers can leave their feedback directly from your website.
The easier you make it for them to leave you a review, the more reviews you'll get. Period.
The Project Supremacy plugin also does an amazing number of things besides handle your reviews for you. It allows you to input your schema data into your website about as painless as the process can be. This will also help to boost your rankings in the search engines. I use this plugin on just about every one of my websites and you should too.
Real World Examples
Now let's take a look at what this actually looks like in the search engines so you can put a few visuals in your mind with how important this is:
Who do you think will be getting the most calls from this listing? All of them have a listing on Google maps which is great because their potentials customers see them first, and they have the option just to click to call these businesses.
But I'd venture to say that the 1st listing, T-VOLT INC. ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS is getting about 75% more calls and leads from this listing just because of the stars next to their businesses name.
Let me ask you a question, who would you call?
Let's take a look at another listing while we are looking at the electrician niche: This is the search results for "Atlanta electrician", quite a lucrative search term:
Again, nine times out of 10 you are going to call or go with the listing with the stars attached to it. Which just so HAPPENS to AGAIN be the first listing.
Do you see a pattern here? It could play a part in the algorithm, or it may be just that the firm this company has doing the marketing for them is killing it. Either way, a win-win.
You can take one of two approaches now that you are armed with this information.
One: Start implementing today and be the THEE business in your niche, in your area that is CRUSHING it with reviews and social proof online.
Two: Stick your head in the sand like an ostrich and pretend like it doesn't matter. Let the other businesses worry about reviews and getting more clients, maybe that's not for you?
Either way, the choice is yours. I know which route I take for my clients, and they thank me and commend me for it all the time. Which route will YOU choose?