Synopsis: Professional Services and Product Review Websites are proliferating the internet and are both a constant source of pride and irritation in equal measure to most businesses. Are they a Cure-All or are they a Curse? Well, think back to the last time you made a purchase decision of your own. When you last looked for a new car, where did you turn for a review? When you were looking for that new flat screen TV, where did you find the most interesting reviews and opinions?
Increasingly, people are also finding doctors, dentists, plumbers, lawyers, roofers, etc. online and verifying both reliability and suitability through online reviews: before making a purchase decision. “Members submit more than 65,000 new reviews each month” on Angieslist.com (one of the world’s leading professional services and product review websites). 65,000 REVIEWS PER MONTH!! Yelp.com is another key resource for many consumers looking for professional services and product reviews – particularly of companies in their local vicinity, although you’re more likely to find a restaurant than a restaurant holding company.
Reviews can be hit or miss – particularly if your company has a bad day – but it’s imperative to use reviews to your advantage. Reviews are neither a cure-all nor a curse. They are a part of your daily business routine. If not, and your business has not already started taking reviews seriously, then you are really missing a golden opportunity to use your most valuable sales and marketing tool – your existing, satisfied customers!
Why bother with review sites?
Many clients have asked us why reviews – and particularly online review websites – are so important. We regularly hear clients ask: “aren’t the reviews usually from people who want to complain about your business? Aren’t the complainers more likely to write a ‘review’?”
The short answer is no. There will sometimes be an element of the population complaining about your business. But that already exists, no doubt. The critical difference is here the complaint is open wide to the world to see (it was not sent to you in writing or made in the place of business, but on a review website). Since the majority of consumers are more reliant on review websites than ever before, managing the reviews process is becoming an ever more important aspect of marketing, PR and customer relations.
Reviews already act as a primary source of reliable first-hand information on both products and – ever increasingly – on services as well. More than 65,000 new reviews of service providers are added every month on the popular review website Angieslist.com.
What do your reviews say about your business?
Is your’s the best service in town? What did your last 10-customers say about your services? What about the person that complains about ‘everything’ – should you respond to the complaint? Why should you respond to reviews at all? How should you respond to any negative reviews?
Positivity is always the best option when replying to customers. Some businesses on Yelp take the reviews very seriously, and some even take a few moments every day to reply to each and every review posted about their business. This is fantastic, but as a business grows it can be time consuming and tiresome.
Reviews can make or break new businesses. In many cases, we recommend that as a business – particularly professional services businesses – you ask your clients to complete a survey after you have provided them with your service. This can be done by sending a link to your preferred review page, providing a terminal (an iPad is an excellent option) at the point of sale or by asking for a testimonial for your website. All these methods will help customers feel better about reviewing your business.
In cases where things have gone wrong, capturing the data immediately can help rectify the situation before it results in a negative review online. It can also help you better understand the needs of your consumers. Doctors, Dentists, Surgicenters, etc. are all slowly catching on to this methodology. With 55% of consumers finding their medical service provider online, it comes as no surprise that the old word-of-mouth recommendation of a doctor no longer (necessarily) holds as much sway as the online reviews and reputation of the doctor, etc.