How do potential customers find your HVAC, plumbing, or electrical company when their furnace sputters out in the middle of the night or when their toilet springs a leak right before a big party?
Customers aren't checking the phone book or asking a neighbor for recommendations for a local home service provider. They're reading online reviews.
In today’s digital age, positive customer reviews on crowd-sourced review platforms and other social networking sites tend to tip the scales when potential customers weigh the pros and cons of hiring your service company. In fact, 91% of consumers who participated in this 2019 Local Consumer Review Survey said positive reviews make them more likely to use a business.
“Brand trust is a big part of what we do,” says Ben Stark—owner of the Dallas-Fort Worth HVAC company, Sunny Service. Ben’s business enhances its online presence by staying active on Nextdoor.com, a host for closed social groups for individual neighborhoods, and Alignable.com, a small business networking group that generates referrals from other nearby businesses.
“There are so many different avenues you have to go down,” Stark says. His company has successfully replaced outdated methods like newspaper advertising for modern digital marketing strategies. “We’re still a relatively small company, but we’re starting to gain a lot of (momentum).”
People trust a business more after reading a positive online review written by a real customer. Prospective customers read an average of 10 reviews before trusting a business, and 89 percent of those people—between 35 and 54 years old—trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to the Consumer Review Survey.
When people are stuck without air conditioning or running water, they're going to rely on online reviews to influence their decision. Make sure your online reputation makes you the no-brainer choice.
How to Get More Customers to Leave Online Reviews
You’re not alone—many companies struggle to get customers to leave reviews when trying to grow their business. Is it just a matter of reminding technicians to ask for a review before they leave, or repeatedly nudging a customer to leave a review after they receive exemplary service?
Positive business reviews do more than just add credibility to your business—they also boost your online ranking. If you’re not on showing up on the first page of search results, potential customers may never make it to your website.
With 82 percent of all consumers checking online reviews before making a final decision, now is the time to invest in software that delivers in-depth ROI reporting, so you can track all of your marketing campaigns and digital ads. By implementing a modern software solution that offers essential insight and clarity, you're able to identify which marketing efforts are generating the results, or better yet, the reviews you want. By implementing a modern software solution that offers essential insight and clarity, you're able to identify which marketing efforts are generating the results, or better yet, the reviews you want.
Absolute Air, Heat and Water of Mapleton, Utah, is a great example of this. They ditched their paid phone book listing and instead optimized their website with SEO keywords and pushed for online reviews. As a result, the company increased revenue by 10 times in just one year, according to Absolute’s Chief Marketing Officer Brian Hortin.
Operating in an area saturated with HVAC and plumbing companies, Absolute Air gained a competitive edge by revamping its website and updating location-specific landing pages on the company website every time a technician visited a job site in that area. The geo-targeted keywords and constant activity boosted their online SEO presence and generated lots of reviews.
Their technicians use company iPads equipped with ServiceTitan software to automatically upload content to the website. This typically includes photos of the equipment they’re working on and a brief keyword description of the tasks performed.
“As soon as they’re done, techs can send an invitation to the customer to leave a review and it only takes a couple of taps all from the same app,” Hortin says.
Use Technology to Remind Customers to Write a Review
Asking customers to leave reviews typically begins with your service technicians, but human error can always sway the reliability of this method. Despite setting automatic reminders for your technicians to ask for a customer review after a service call, their focus on customer follow-up may fall to the wayside as they try to keep up with a busy service schedule.
Tap into the power of smart technology to back your techs and automatically send reminders to customers via text or email after your techs leave the job site. Ensure your personalized (not generic!) messages to customers include links to your preferred review sites to make it as convenient as possible.
When a technician completes a job, they mark the job finished on their tablet and that triggers an automatic email to the customer—requesting a review that provides an easy-to-follow link that sends them directly to where you want them to leave the review.
On top of the automated reminders and technicians requesting a review upon completion, it’s best practice for office staff to follow up with a call to the customer. The follow-up phone call, made by a personable customer service representative, should include questions about how the job went.
Motivate Service Technicians to Earn Customer Reviews
Some of your service technicians may question why they need to be bothered to get a customer’s review when they’re busy performing quality work for every customer. Make sure to contextualize how reviews impact them individually and the company as a whole to get as much buy-in from techs as possible.
Better yet, incentive them. Some companies develop customer referral programs to encourage more reviews. Others—like Dick Hill and Son in Richmond, Indiana—motivate its technicians to win prizes based on points earned for every five-star customer review. This has proven to be an effective method to drive team-wide adoption, especially since customers are becoming more comfortable with the review process.
Service providers are not only incentivizing their techs, but their customers as well. The Local Consumer Review Survey shows that 67 percent of consumers were asked to leave a review for a local business, and 24 percent of them were offered a discount, gift, or cash in return.
Absolute Air technicians even read their great reviews aloud at company meetings. “People comment all the time that they are impressed with our online reviews, and it’s fun too, because we get to celebrate internally at our quarterly company meetings,” Hortin says.
How to Maximize Reviews and Track Website Traffic
Branding becomes very important when it comes to organic search results, and how your company responds to online reviews also impacts a customer’s perception of your brand. In fact, the survey found among consumers who read reviews, 97% read a business’ response to reviews.
“Sometimes, it’s just a matter of engaging people on social media to encourage trust in your company,” Hortin says. Absolute Air, Heat and Water interacts regularly with about 4,000 Facebook followers to help keep the company at the top of customers’ minds, So when their pilot light goes out or their AC is blowing hot air again, they already know who to call.
“We are ranking better for keywords, for those people who do search for a generic word phrase like ‘furnace tune-up,’ and we dominate if you search for anything related to Absolute,” Hortin states. He also points out that four out of five people, based on industry statistics, “are looking for specific companies when they go to Google, based on other experiences.”
Hortin likens Google to the phone book 2.0—meaning a lot of people who find the company on a search engine discovered them somewhere else first and then looked them up directly.
“We know they actually didn’t find us online. They found us because a friend recommended us on Facebook, or they saw our billboard, or something like that,” Hortin says. “They Googled us to see how our reviews were and then they called. Google gets the credit, but we know that most of the time it’s because of all the other marketing efforts.”
Focusing on the company’s online reputation and SEO tactics like adding trending keywords helped Absolute get noticed and grow exponentially. Absolute Air boasts more than 200 Facebook recommendations with an average of 4.9 stars. The company receives a notification any time someone leaves a review, and the staff calls customers immediately to work on a resolution if a customer complains.
“One-star reviews end up becoming five-star reviews, because we can take that and turn a negative into a positive and solve the problem quickly,” Hortin explains. “Altogether, that has made a huge difference and helped us to solve what for a long time was our biggest challenge.”
“We get comments from customers all the time who say ‘We called you because of your reviews.’ We really care about our reputation. We manage it closely.”
As home service companies become more attuned to their online reputation, the field can become more competitive. Stay ahead of the competition by implementing these sure-fire tactics and make 2020 the year you become unstoppable.
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and substantially elevate the trajectory of their business. Our comprehensive, cloud-based platform is used by thousands of electrical, HVAC, plumbing, garage door, and chimney sweep shops across the country—and has increased their revenue by an average of 25% in just their first year with us.