Creating a great experience for your customers goes far beyond installing a roof — it includes great communication, scheduling, products and much more. If you’re like most roofing businesses, creating a great experience for customers does more than just build credibility, it leads to word of mouth referrals which ultimately increases your bottom line.
With the rise of social media sites like Facebook, Yelp, Twitter and Google, getting referrals from customers and building your business’s reputation digitally across multiple platforms has never been easier and more important for a company.
Online Reviews Matter
There is no mistaking it: people believe what is written online, especially if you are connected to the person that wrote it. Think of all the Facebook hoaxes that circle around. If you use Facebook yourself, you have probably seen them in your newsfeed. Just like the spread of other information, these hoaxes get shared because psychologically we are more inclined to trust without questioning what the people in our “friend circle” say, even when it is online. This makes each person with a social media profile and following uniquely influential.
The influence factor of social media is great for generating customer referrals and building your business’s online reputation. In fact, studies report that 72 percent of people who read positive reviews online about a business are more likely to trust that business. Furthermore, 90 percent of consumers will read online reviews about a business before making a purchase or purchase decision. Most businesses are already capitalizing on online reviews, and are often incentivizing customers to go in and “rate” their experience after a job’s completed.
But what happens when a customer leaves a bad review? What if the bad review wasn’t actually from a customer, but a competitor trying to tarnish your business’s reputation? As a business owner, do you have options to prevent this?
Action, Not Reaction
In regards to customer service, John Lydgate said it best, “You can’t please all the people all the time.” As a business owner, you will likely have to deal with a customer at some point who will never be satisfied, no matter what you do. When the situation arises and you receive a negative online review your best bet is to take action by responding to the review. However, don’t react and make the situation worse.
If someone were to give you feedback in person about your business would you respond to them? Absolutely. Online communication is not any different, and not responding to reviews made by customers is a mistake many business owners make. Crafting a non-argumentative response to a negative online review is the first step in resolving the issue. The next step is to provide the customer with an alternative way to further the discussion, whether it be email or a phone call. This allows you to remain professional and show other potential customers that you are willing to work to resolve any and all issues.
Use this generic response, or one similar, the next time you have to reply to a negative online review from a customer, “Thank you (their name) for providing your feedback. We appreciate your taking the time to let us know of your experience since feedback like yours helps us improve our services. Please e-mail us at ______ so we can learn more about your experience and work on resolving the issue.”
When Competitors Go Too Far
Competition is a healthy sign of a successful business, however, that doesn’t mean other businesses won’t go to the extreme and post false reviews to tarnish your business’s credibility online. So what options do you have to combat false reviews? It depends largely on the platform.
When a false review has been left on a Yelp business page the owner has the option to report it. In the report the owner is able to include any information that the Yelp moderators can verify. Yelp does make it clear that they “Don’t typically take sides in factual disputes and generally allow Yelpers to stand behind their reviews.”
If the review does not get taken down be aware that Yelp uses automated software to determine recommended reviews, so it may determine that the review is not reliable enough to show users. If the review has not been taken down and you would like to address the review, business owners have the option to publicly respond and direct message reviewers.
Google does implement review policies that allow for the removal of content that violates the Google community standards. These include: reviews that are off topic, impersonation reviews, conflict of interest, or reviews that use hate speech or profane/abusive language. Reviews are also not allowed to include ads for other businesses (including phone numbers, URLs, etc.)
If a review is deemed as completely false or defamatory, a business owner can take action by flagging the review as inappropriate and report the user. When reporting a policy violation, you also have the option to submit a legal request. Google will then address the review and if it’s justified as violating a policy, Google can then remove the review. Further legal action is also an option, although this is in extreme cases.
While you cannot delete a negative review, if necessary you can report it to Facebook. Businesses can report reviews that do not follow the ‘Facebook Community Standards’ or focus on the product or service offered by the business. Facebook states, “Keep in mind that something that may be disagreeable or disturbing to you may not violate our Community Standards.” Facebook will review the reported review and could remove it if it doesn’t fall within their guidelines.
There is also an option to remove the “reviews” section on a Facebook page entirely. If competitors are harassing your page you can use this as a last resort.
The Bottom Line: Review Your Reviews
Online reviews, whether positive or negative, are something business owners are going to have to focus on in order to monitor their business’s reputation and remain competitive. If you don’t have the time to review and respond to what customers are saying online you may want to consider hiring someone, or using a third party agency to monitor it for you. If you are looking to increase the number of reviews, consider using a product such as PulseM which will get your entire team involved in the process.