I recently spoke with an angry homeowner fed up with his remodeling contractor. Why? Was the contractor horrible? Was the homeowner unrealistic?
It doesn’t matter, and that is the root of the problem for contractors. Even if a homeowner is wrong, he or she can still do damage with one negative Yelp review, a nasty Facebook post, an angry tweet, or an unflattering jobsite photo on Instagram. This guy, who has young children, had a photo of his yard with trash left behind, sharp metal shards, and screws all over the place.
Negative publicity like this can destroy your online reputation and do costly damage to your business.
A 2013 survey of 1,000 plus B2B & B2C customers, conducted by Dimensional Research and sponsored by Zen Desk, found that 95% of respondents had shared bad customer experiences. 45% of those respondents used Social Media to do so, and 35% used customer review sites like Angie’s List and Yelp (check out the survey HERE).
Plus, bad reviews not only influence those who read them, they can also show prominently when clients or prospects search for you online.
Remember: Damaged reputation = fewer sales = lower margins = less/no profit.
So, how can you develop and sustain a great online reputation?
- Be referable. Thrilled customers who refer you to others are not an accident. Constantly strive to create a “remarkable” experience for your customers. Understand what they want and what they need (often, they’ll need your help to understand themselves). Then, exceed those expectations. For ideas on how to create “remarkable” experiences for clients, my go to resource is “The Purple Cow,” by Seth Godin.
- Be accessible! Make it easy for customers to provide feedback, good or bad. Ask for it at multiple stages. Be available on-site and via email, phone, text, Skype…whatever. Don’t make clients search for you. Seek feedback. This will also help you address issues before they escalate. And that takes us to…
- Be responsive. If you get negative feedback, or a negative online review, don’t stick your head in the sand and don’t get defensive. If a client rips your company on Yelp, reply promptly and publicly. Then, try to pull the conversation offline and work to address their issues.
- Accentuate the positive. ALWAYS! When clients give favorable feedback, take that opportunity to thank them. Then work to understand what specifically they loved about their experience. Then ask them to share their feedback in an online review. Remember, make it as simple as possible for them to share their experience.
Laurie Banyay of Qualified Remodeler gives additional tips to manage your online reputation HERE.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools can go a long way in helping you manage jobs and client relationships, making it easier to replicate the things that drive “remarkable” customer experiences. But, not all software is the same. Make sure you use a tool that not only helps you track and manage work, but also helps capture those valuable testimonials.
MarketSharp, a CRM focused on contractors, has many key features to help you manage the whole business cycle, from prospecting to closing out jobs and gaining referrals.
The best way to establish your “reputation firewall”, and offset negative reviews, is to consistently ask your customers for feedback.
And, by partnering with Listen360 and GuildQuality, MarketSharp automates requests for consumer feedback and surveys. Remodeling contractors using GuildQuality see a 70% response rate with a phone, mail, and email survey process. GuildQuality members average a 91% Likely to recommend rate from their customers. Further, 6% of consumers surveyed with Listen360 are choosing to share their experiences in one or more online reviews.
Underscoring all of this is the fact that 79% of consumers report that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
If you’re in business in 2015, you have an online reputation. Will you control yours?