Consumers use online reviews to analyze every purchase these days, from books to electronic equipment. Even contractors are reviewed online, most notably on sites like Angie’s List, which charges a fee just to participate.
Recently, many online review systems, including Angie’s list have come under public attack for claiming to be consumer centered while still collecting advertising dollars. As a contractor, you have the option of improving your ranking on Angie’s list, assuming that you are already well rated, by paying a monthly fee to be listed at the top of the page.
The company has been criticized for this practice, saying that it negates the idea that consumers are paying for unbiased search results and reviews. Given the feelings regarding the ability of contractors to affect these listings, you are better off steering clear of advertising in this fashion.
Knowing that you will likely find your business mentioned on an online review website, how can you best manage the effects, especially when it comes to negative reviews?
Don’t stress the small stuff.
Websites like Yelp and HomeAdvisor allow people to post reviews of businesses that they may or may not have used. If you find yourself the victim of an attack or unfair review, keep things in perspective. You are probably gaining most of your business through word of mouth recommendations by clients who were pleased with your work, and prospective customers take those far more seriously than anonymous complaints.
Improve your online reputation.
You can take steps to reply to legitimate complaints or request the removal of a fake review to improve your appearance on review websites. Do not get into arguments online. Even if you are correct, this is never professional and always has a negative effect on your business reputation. Some contractors have even sued for defamation of character over severe, inaccurate reviews.
The best way to use the review system for your benefit is to ask satisfied customers to participate. Avoid the temptation to pay for positive reviews or post them yourself. These reviews are often obviously insincere and will have the opposite effect of what you are going for.
Why you should avoid getting involved.
When contractors participate in practices, such as having company employees leave positive reviews, publicly debating the truth of reviews, or paying for improved statistics, it only serves to hurt your reputation and make people doubt legitimate praise as well. While monitoring what people are saying about your business is a good idea, manipulating it is not. Sooner or later, people will discover if your online reviews are falsified, and any business gained from them will be outweighed by the loss created by your dishonesty.
What you should do.
Be aware of what people are saying about your company. Take complaints seriously, even when the customer is being unreasonable, just like you would in person. Do what you can to solve any issues that crop up. If appropriate, ask the client to revise their review once they are satisfied.
If you notice reviews that you believe are fake or possibly posted by your competition, report them to the website administrator rather than commenting on them yourself. Simply request that they be removed, and leave it at that.
The best thing you can do to ensure that online reviews do not hurt your business is to continue providing top quality work and striving for customer satisfaction. If your customers are happy, you will not have many negative reviews to worry about.
There are a lot of ways to use reviews to your advantage and many contractors who don’t know where to start often find themselves behind the 8 ball when someone posts a negative review. If you’ve been the victim of negative reviews or want to protect yourself, then you should check out my construction marketing services and get ahead of it before it becomes a real problem.