A Closer Look at how Your Online Reputation Can Impact Sales

by Corey Philip
April 6, 2018

Like it or not, a business’s reputation lives primarily online today. Whether shopping for flooring, or exterior painting, potential customers turn to the Internet to find out more information about businesses and brands, especially before spending thousands of dollars, and allowing them to do work in their home. This makes knowing what your customers are both saying and seeing about you when they do a Google search so important. You may be thinking, how can I control what’s said about my business online? The truth of the matter is that you can’t, but you can take steps to manage and improve your online reputation. Simply put, what people say about your business online matters more than ever. It can and likely will have a noticeable and measurable impact on your sales.

The web has changed, and so should your approach

As a company that offers home services, you may not spend too much time thinking about your presence on the web. Especially if you’re an older business that’s pretty well established locally, you might not see the value in investing a lot of time, energy, and money on the web. You may be focused on gaining customers through more traditional marketing methods that you’re comfortable using. Perhaps you see a lot of customers coming to you by good, old fashioned word of mouth referrals.

That’s all well and good, but in today’s environment it’s just not good enough. Pretending that social media isn’t important or valuable won’t benefit your business. A recent consumer review survey by Bright Local found that 97% of consumers read reviews on the web for local businesses just last year. Another important finding is that 85% of consumers trust the reviews that they read online as much as they trust the personal recommendations of friends and family. That means that online reviews are just as valuable as in person referrals, and possibly even more so.

These stats show that you just can’t afford to overlook or ignore the importance of the web, especially when you’re offering a service. Without a positive web presence, you’re missing out on sales and the opportunity to attract new customers in your area. Whether you like it or not, local customers are going to do a quick Google search of your business name. They want to read reviews and get whatever information may exist out there about your services. You have the opportunity to shape that information, to some degree, and simply having a basic website isn’t enough.

Social media matters

Having a presence on social media is essential, and easier than you may think. Pew Research reports that 69% of the American public uses some form of social media. Many of the people in your target market are using social sites like Facebook and Twitter. They’re sharing reviews and experiences about products and services they use and purchase, and they’re looking to see what others have to say. If you set up and maintain accounts on these social sites, you’ll have the advantage of communicating directly with your customers.

Your Facebook account can be a great place to share info with your target market. You can upload photos and videos that highlight completed projects and show potential customers what you do. You can share offers and promotions. Most importantly, you can interact with your customers. It’s an easy way to build a more personal relationship with clients. When others visit your page and see how you respond to and interact with clients, it can leave a positive impression.

Online reviews: Is one bad review one too many?

Unfortunately, most businesses have their share of less than stellar reviews. All it takes is just one bad one to have an impact on how potential customers can view your business. It may be the first thing that they read about you, and first impressions are the most impactful. Let’s be realistic though, because no business is perfect. You won’t be able to please every client, and may even be surprised to read some of the reviews customers will share about you. That’s why how you handle the negative reviews is so important.

How to handle negative reviews

It doesn’t feel good to read negative things about your business online. In fact, it really stinks, especially if you haven’t had an opportunity to discuss the issues with the customer before they posted it publically. However, don’t hide from criticism, but confront it head on. Address it openly, and be transparent.

Responding to a negative review can be the best way to handle it, but keep in mind that how you respond matters just as much. If you come across as dismissive, it’s not going to be helpful to your image. Acknowledge the grievance, apologize, and recognize the customer’s concerns. Consider extending an offer to remedy the situation, and see if you can come to an agreement to make things right. When potential customers see you handle a negative review this way, they’ll view you as a business that truly cares.

While many negative reviews are warranted, occasionally you’ll get some that are un warranted. Some that I’ve seen for home service companies and contractors:

  • 1 star because you don’t cover their area.
  • 1 star because you don’t sell / ship materials.
  • 1 star because you wouldn’t give discount (review blackmail).

The best way to combat these is….

Strive to be proactive, not reactive

It’s good advice for many areas of life and business, so strive to be more proactive about your company’s reputation on the web. Monitor what people are saying about you on social media and on popular review sites. Ask your current customers for their honest feedback and reviews. When it comes to your social media accounts, make an effort to be engaging. Responding politely and promptly to messages and inquiries will demonstrate that you’re active online, which customers like. In fact, many have come to expect it today.

You can keep tabs on what people are saying about you online, but at the end of the day, the best thing that you can do is provide excellent service to all of your clients. Focus on meeting their needs and being a good communicator. When it comes to home services, customers are looking for a reliable, trustworthy company to do business with. So stay on top of your online reputation, but maintain the focus on building positive relationships with current clients to help encourage and bring in more sales in the future.

About the author

Corey Philip

Corey Philip is a small business owner / investor with a focus on home service businesses.

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