A company’s online reputation is absolutely critical to success. You might think that as a contractor, your reputation is built solely on your work and your word. But the Internet affects us all now, regardless of the type of business we have. With a few keystrokes, people in your community can see reviews of your business from every customer with a mouth and an opinion.
While there are still companies that live by word of mouth only and skip all the online nonsense, most of us need to have some level of online presence. This is critical in order to generate new leads for our business, validate our brand or simply keep customers’ minds at ease. So what can you do to give you and your organization that online boost it needs to stay competitive?
The basics of reputation management
Let’s start from the beginning: do good work! The basics of reputation management start with establishing a good reputation by doing good work. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe the number of contractors who think they can cut corners or cop an attitude to customers and still think it won’t affect their reputation.
The best (and easiest) way to build a good online reputation—or any reputation for that matter—is simply to do quality work. If you’re out in the market offering taillight warranties, underbidding jobs only to change-order the crap out of someone after you’ve started, or are just shady in general, your online reputation is tanked. Remember, the Internet is fast and permanent: if you’ve been less-than-honest in any of your dealings, the chances are your bad reputation is already out there.
Be that person who goes the extra mile
If you want to see your online reputation skyrocket, be that person who goes the extra mile for your customers. People expect quality work when they hire you. That’s the baseline. But to get a customer to that “Wow” level—to get them motivated enough to go online and leave a stellar review— you need to deliver a truly outstanding customer experience.
Organization is a major help here. Customers who perceive their contractors to be organized and “on top of it” are often far more pleased with them overall. This makes the customer more likely to give you a glowing review on NextDoor, Yelp or Facebook. Things like timely and consistent communication, punctuality and cleanliness also go a long way, and it’s that little, extra something that shows you’re the contractor who strives to deliver the best customer experience.
Set up your online presence
Make sure you’ve set up your online presence and are ready to receive feedback. This is the part of the equation that a lot of contractors don’t think about. If you don’t have a Facebook page or a NextDoor profile, how can customers recommend you? No Google Business Page? Looks like no Google reviews (which are the first thing people see when searching for you online). Before you start asking for reviews, figure out which platforms you want to have a presence on.
Keep this in mind: some customers simply want to see that you have an online presence. They might not dig around for reviews or take a deep dive into your reputation, but rather take comfort in the fact that you’re part of the online community.
Ask for feedback, then respond to it
In the same way you ask for a sale, ask for the feedback when the job is done, then respond to it when it appears online. Most of us are aware that people who are satisfied are far less likely to write you a review as someone who is dissatisfied. In fact, someone who is NOT happy with your work will tell everyone they know about you. Though we can’t change that, we can work to level the playing field, and that starts with asking for an online review from clients who are happy. If you have an efficient and written process for this, this can be a very seamless experience for the customer.
Then respond to that feedback – good or bad. This will show that you actually received the feedback and that you heard the customer. And whether it’s positive or constructive/negative feedback, respond! Of course, you should probably have a cool down period before responding to the negative feedback; I’ve been there at 10PM on a Friday night getting ready to slam that 1-star review with my wittiest responses. Regardless, respond to every review and always look at the response from the position of the next potential customer who might be reading it. This will show them that you care about your customers’ feedback, and if you are articulate and rational when responding to feedback.
Online reputations are something you need to commit effort to. It is a combination of organic feedback from your customers mixed with some solicitation of that feedback and a concise direction on where that feedback needs to be broadcasted. At AJCEO we can help you with setting up your processes and systems to make reputation management easier, including helping you with your GMB, Facebook, NextDoor and Yelp profiles.