Never underestimate the impact online reviews have on your business, especially if you’re in the home service industry.
Customers will trust a business that not only earns a lot of reviews, but takes the time to acknowledge the feedback they receive.
Take Calgary’s Knight Plumbing and Heating as an example. Since actively starting an online review process, the Calgary-based HVAC company has gone from 55 Google reviews in 2016 to 182+ to date, with a 4.2/5 trust rating. Their HomeStars review count went from 199 to 454 in the same amount of time. That’s pretty impressive.
We spoke with Knight’s Service Manager, Mark Coffin, to get a firsthand account of how important receiving and replying to online reviews is for a home service business.
Your Prospective Customers Are Reading Reviews
Before online review sites like Homestars and Google, people were always quick to register negative feedback through complaints by phone or via a letter, but rarely went out of their way to provide feedback on excellent service. Online reviews have made it easier to leave positive comments, and there is a higher likelihood that people will take the time to do it.
When you ask all of your customers for feedback, you’ll get a fair number of reviews. The more reviews you have, particularly positive ones, the more people will see them.
As Mark puts it, “it’s out there for everybody.” Like-minded individuals will see positive reviews with thoughtful responses, and feel more secure picking that company for whatever service they need. It’s human nature. “You’re always looking for peoples’ opinions,” Mark states. “It’s like shopping for clothes; you try something on and ask someone if you look good.”
People are doing the same thing when it comes to their HVAC and other service-based businesses. They’re asking if the company is reliable, if they have competitive prices, if they answer calls promptly and professionally, along with many other questions.
The best way for people to find an honest answer to their questions? Look at the reviews written by people who were in the same situation. They’ll see what what people liked, what they didn’t like, and how the company handles complaints.
Ask for Reviews After Every Service Call
Before online reviews were a company standard, Knight was always concerned with receiving feedback from clients about the quality of the service and their experience. They would call their clients with a questionnaire so that they could hear what they had to say. This is something that they still do today.
As it becomes more mainstream, more people are responding to the request for feedback, and posting both positive and negative reviews.
“We want it all,” Mark says. “If we don’t get the good and the bad, we’ll never learn and grow as a company.”
With online reviews bringing attention to the company, Knight has even more opportunities to promote themselves to their service area. Knight’s vice-president Ryan Wandler was just interviewed for CityNews as an expert in the world of air conditioning. This company is widely recognized as a one that is high-quality, reputable, and good at what they do.
Engage With Both Positive and Negative Reviewers
Mark makes time every morning to check all of the review platforms for reviews that need a response. He starts every response to every review with a thank you. Even the negative ones.
“We’re not perfect,” he explains. “On negative reviews, I leave a way to contact me and encourage the reviewer to continue the conversation offline.” This demonstrates to other potential customers that if something doesn’t go the way they want, Knight will take the time to address the problem.
It also helps prove to people that these aren’t fake reviews. Customers are on the lookout for a company profile that only has positive comments and 10/10 ratings. It makes them wary of the company. Knight is constantly monitoring for fake reviews, and it is one of the reasons they encourage both positive and negative feedback- they are all about building trust.
Answering reviews does take time, but it is time that is well spent. “I believe it’s a valuable way to let clients know we are listening and being proactive,” Mark says.
How You Handle Negative Reviews Makes A Difference
There have been many times when, thanks to a single review, Knight was able to address a problem and fix it. Mark recalls one situation that happened not too long ago.
“We did get a bad review; someone had a bad experience. We went back to the house and rectified the situation to the customer’s satisfaction, and he actually went back and changed his review,” he says, adding that they had not asked him to make the changes to his online review.
Here was an unsatisfied customer who ended up adding positive comments to what was previously a negative review. This journey is now documented online for others to see. They will receive the knowledge that Knight is a company that will actively investigate and fix problems. This situation demonstrated the fact that people appreciate when they are heard.
“At the end of the day, we all want feedback,” Mark says. It feels good to be acknowledged, and having a company put in the time to listen.
Reviews Get You On Google’s Map for Potential Customers
Knight Heating and Plumbing is an example of a company that uses reviews as a way to measure overall satisfaction, as well as demonstrate that they value the people who take the time to choose them for their service needs. The process has worked so well for them, they’re using it for their new electrical services company, Sun Solar & Electrical.
As a result, they show the rest of the people looking for the services they offer that they are a company that doesn’t simply complete a job and forget their customers until they are next called into action.
Google’s algorithm (as of now) looks favourably toward local businesses who have a positive online reputation. It’s part of their strategy to ensure when user Google terms like ‘HVAC repairs’ that they are provided with the most relevant, authoritative websites within their local region on Google Map and Google Search Results.
After all, are you more likely to trust the company that has 0 reviews or a reasonable number of positive reviews? People want to be reassured that they’re making the right choice, and online reviews go a long way in showing people that your company is the one to trust.