In today’s world, online reviews matter. I recently decided to switch dentists and find one closer to our new home. After finding some local dental practices within my insurance network, the first thing I did was head to Google and Yelp to see what others had to say about these businesses. I’m not trusting my teeth to just anyone!
The same goes for home services. Consumers want to find someone they can trust in their homes — they’re not going to trust just anyone. According to Podium’s recently released 2021 State of Reviews report, reviews influence 88% of consumers in discovering a local business. Podium is a customer messaging platform for business that offers everything from reviews to webchat to customer SMS texting. I had the chance to interview Kate Hill, Podiums’s director of sales, home services, to further discuss the report and what it means for service contractors.
“When it comes to trusting a company to come into your home, consumers want to hear from customers who have gone through the same experience,” Hill says. “93% of consumers say that online reviews influence their purchase decision, which is huge. Whether a potential customer hears about you through a friend, the radio or even a billboard, their first step to getting in touch with you is typically through Google. Your GMB page is essentially your new store-front.”
COVID-19 has created new customer expectations for businesses. Per Podium’s report, 31% of consumers say they are more likely to look at a local business’s Google listing before visiting/contacting it than they were before COVID-19. Additionally, 50% of consumers are reading reviews to validate local businesses’ safety practices. As such, Hill notes reviews are more important than ever before for service contractors.
“As people are spending more time in their homes — and on their mobile devices — consumers are doing more and more research via their cell phones,” she explains. “This has created what Google calls ‘micro moments’ which is when a customer knows what they want, and has the intent to buy, but needs to be connected with the right business. Contractors can maximize on these moments by being the obvious choice with their great reviews.”
So how can contractors generate good reviews on platforms such as Google and Yelp? We all know consumers are more likely to leave a review after a bad experience than a good one. According to Podium, 81% of consumers leave a business review once a quarter — or less; 20% say they’ve never even left a review. So service contractors need to make it easier and more convenient for customers to leave a positive review of their business. Customers are not going to leave a review if you don’t ask.
“Making it easy for your happy customer to leave a review is key,” Hill says. “The most commonly used method of communication these days is text message. With Podium, you can automate a quick review request through text to go straight to the customer’s cell phone, which takes them right to the review.”
According to Hill, a good review should include as much detail about the services you provided as possible.
“Key words like ‘pipe repair’ or ‘water heater’ will help optimize your listing, and make it easier for potential customers who are searching for those services to find you,” she says. “It’s all about making it simple. Most happy customers are willing to leave a great review, as long as you make it easy for them. Texting them the link makes it brainless easy, and will take them less than 30 seconds. The fewer hoops they have to jump through, the more likely you are to get that review.”
So what happens when a contractor receives a negative review?
“Negative reviews do happen, and they’re almost impossible to avoid,” Hill explains. “The key is to respond back to those reviews quickly and publicly, so not only are you taking care of that customer, you are showing your potential customers out there that you care.”
While reviews are important to service contractors, they’re only a piece of the marketing strategy pie. For more information on contractor marketing solutions in 2021, read our Marketing 101 article here.
For more information or to read Podium’s 2021 State of Reviews report, visit www.podium.com/state-of-online-reviews.