By now, you certainly don’t need us to tell you that, if there’s one place you’re going to get the majority of your work from these days, it’s the web. From websites like Checkatrade, to those “Anyone know a good plumber?” posts that have begun popping up with greater frequency since Facebook introduced its Recommendations feature, the Internet presents us with what is basically the next level of Word of Mouth marketing – or Word of Mouth 2.0, if you want to get all geeky about it.
So yes, you’ve been working hard on building your online presence (and following our awesome guide to digital marketing for tradesmen, obviously), but if that digital presence doesn’t include a solid collection of user reviews, you’re missing a vital piece of the puzzle.
Not sure how to go about creating such a collection? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
First, however, let’s answer one important question:
Why do I need customer reviews?
That website you spent so long working on does a great job of telling your customers about not only the services you deliver, but how well you deliver them. And that’s a great start, sure, but let us ask you a question.
What’s likely to have a bigger impact on your potential customers – You telling them how great you are, or other people with no vested interest in your business telling them how great you are?
It’s the latter, isn’t it?
Besides, with 85% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 73% claiming positive reviews make them trust a local business more, this is one vital part of your overall marketing that you just can’t afford to ignore.
Still, that doesn’t answer the other critically important question: how do you actually go about getting those reviews?
Here, we offer our top tips on how to collect and manage that all-important customer feedback, and increase your online reputation.
Go above & beyond
Think about any time you’ve left a positive review online of a business or service. What was it that inspired you to do so?
Was it, average, run-of-the-mill service that may have been satisfactory, but was hardly anything out of the ordinary? Or was it a business that went above and beyond the norm to deliver a valuable service that really stood out?
Again, it was the latter one, wasn’t it?
Obviously, we’re not saying you have to go to the extremes that some tradesmen are asked to go to by their clients, but going all out to ensure your quality of work, your professional demeanor and your overall service are second-to-none, is far more likely to inspire someone to write a review than if you simply go through the motions.
Ask & ye shall (probably) receive
If your excellent service alone isn’t enough to prompt customers to leave you a review, you can always simply ask them for one. Half the time, it’s more likely to be that customers simply hadn’t thought about leaving a review and not that they actively don’t want to.
At the end of the job, you can always ask homeowners if they’re happy with the work you’ve carried out, and if they are, ask them if they’d be happy to say a few words about you.
A gentle reminder
Even customers with the best of intentions about leaving you a review can forget to do so – the seemingly small task being swept up in a never-ending storm of more important (to them) priorities. The good news is that there are a few ways you can give them a gentle reminder.
You could, for example, include a short yet prominent line on your printed invoices reminding them to log on and leave their review, or even have a small flyer printed which thanks customers for their business which, along with reminding them to leave a review, can also be a good way of ensuring they’ve got your contact details handy should they ever need you again.
You’ve done great work, you’ve asked for a review, and you’ve gently reminded your customers that you’d appreciate it, but they’re still not forthcoming with their feedback. At this stage, you might want to leave it a week or so and make a quick follow-up call, primarily to check that they’re happy with your completed work and that there have been no problems since, but also to politely ask for that review again.
Remember to only do this once. There’s a fine line between a polite request and making your customers feel like you’re harassing them.
Ask for reviews on a regular basis
Generating customer reviews of your work isn’t something you can do once or twice and then forget all about. You’ll find that most online reviews are dated, so if you haven’t had any reviews for a long time, that could lead people to think you’ve gone out of business or, worse, that you’re still operating but doing such a bad job that nobody wants to leave you any feedback.
With that in mind, remember to ask for reviews on a regular basis in order to keep your feedback both recent and relevant.
Responding to reviews
Finally, once you have your reviews, take the time to reply to them.
Not only does this show that you genuinely appreciate the feedback you receive (and that your customers took time out of the day to leave it), but it gives you the perfect opportunity to offer an objective, polite response to any criticism.
Equally as important, taking the time to read and respond to your reviews can provide some unique insights into what it is about your work that people like and what you could do better, giving you the perfect opportunity to fine-tune your service and ensure that you deliver the kind of outstanding work that inspires your next client to leave you that all-important review without you even having to ask.
Tradesman Saver also provides insurance for tradesmen covering a wide variety of professions, as well as insurance for self-employed professionals. For further information, please see our Tradesman Insurance, Self-Employed Insurance or Who We Cover pages.