iMarket Solutions Blog : Archive for the ‘Reputation Management’ Category

Get Started with Facebook Professional Services for HVAC / Plumbing

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Could you please review us on Facebook? Make sure that your employees know that phrase by heart. Facebook has softly launched a new adaptation for their users called Facebook Professional Services. This new section of Facebook is adapting best practices from other direct competitors such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Google+, and Home Advisor, to provide personalized recommendations from your Facebook friends.

The evidence is clear why both Plumbing and HVAC companies must engage with third-party review sites. Consumers rely on the experiences of others when deciding if your business is worth working with. Since 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, Facebook’s new Professional Services section is leveraging this insight by turning online reviews into personal recommendations in order to help customers make decisions.

Facebook Professional Services has already segmented a large amount of different categories in their local search platform ranging from “Photographers” to “Heating, Ventilating & Air Conditioning” and “Plumbing.” What’s more, the user’s location is automatically detected by IP address.

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Once a user conducts a search, Facebook pulls the most relevant information. In each search result, there will be snippet with the following information:

  • Business Name
  • Logo
  • Rating (star & quantity)
  • “Short Description” associated with page
  • Phone
  • Hours of Operation
  • Address
  • Detailed Review

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Should Your Plumbing or HVAC Business Be on This New Platform?

Yes, absolutely! But the challenge comes down to two points:

  • What businesses are eligible for Facebook Professional Services?
  • How does Facebook’s algorithm determine the ranking order of results?

It’s not clear how many customers use this review engine. Facebook has been incrementally innovating their platform to provide the best user experience, so it will be interesting to see how they use this information. At the moment, it’s hard to say how this platform compares to its competitors, such as Google and Yelp.

How Do I List My Business on Facebook Professional Services

Since this is a soft launch and there is no official information, you’ll have to experiment with it yourself. But the guide below is based upon common optimization traits that I have noticed among our clients currently listed on Facebook Professional Services. 

  1. Since this is a search engine designed around local businesses, claim your page as a “Local Business or Place.”
  2. Make sure that the category listed in “Page Info” matches the directory. For example: Search Category = Home Improvement > Plumber should match Page Category = Local Businesses > Home Improvement + Subcategories = Plumber.
  3. Complete your profile. Use keywords (e.g. plumbing, plumber, plumbers, etc.) to help Facebook determine what kind of business you are.
  4. Let your customers know that you’re on Facebook so that you can begin gathering reviews. The quantity of reviews has been a major factor across all third-party review websites, so I wouldn’t accept anything less from Facebook Professional Services platform.

One of the most difficult challenges that most Plumbers and HVAC companies struggle with is review generation. That’s why we developed Recommend Me, an easy-to-use application that integrates reviews into your website and directs your happiest customers to share their experience at third party review sites (such as Facebook Professional Services, Yelp, Google+, etc.).

Our Reputation Specialists are here to assist you towards increasing your online reviews and improving your reputation. Let’s prove that your business is worth working with. Call us today to learn more 800-727-3920.

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How Generating Reviews for HVAC / Plumbing Impacts Leads and ROI

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

How Generating Reviews for HVAC / Plumbing Impacts Leads and ROI

The consumer decision process is notoriously complex. But with some guided marketing assistance and insights to how the consumer thinks, your HVAC or plumbing company can develop a trustworthy business that showcases positive customer experiences. By integrating social influence into your marketing strategy, reviews and testimonials can help increase your lead flow and conversion rates.

To take advantage of social influence, we must look into how a consumer researches and evaluates their purchasing decision. This consumer behavior buying process can be broken down into 5 steps.

  1. Need Recognition
  2. Information Search
  3. Alternative Evaluation
  4. Purchase Decision
  5. Post-Purchase Behavior

Need recognition can be one of the most urgent and timely steps. Being in the HVAC or plumbing industry, “Need Recognition” can quickly become an urgent situation. Both HVAC / plumbing industries have similar audiences since both products are usually out of sight and out of mind making our products a low priority until it becomes an “emergency”.

39% of consumers search online for local businesses at least once a month.

 

Once customers have recognized their need, the “Information Search” process triggers. With abundant ways to discover information, a customer must utilize internal and external avenues to conduct their research. Information can be easily transferred from something as simple as a personal referral or consulting an online review website.

Information Search is the most crucial step towards influencing a purchase. After addressing internal influences, most users will rely on external factors. External factors consist of online reviews, media, word-of-mouth, opinion leaders and personal referrals.

72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more

 

Since the HVAC and Plumbing industries are a specialty profession, customers usually will have little knowledge of our services, thus it’s difficult for them to gauge a perceived value. This is one reason why our industry must focus on building brand affinity and brand loyalty to help build trust through our other customers’ experiences (i.e. reviews / testimonials).

88% read reviews to determine the quality of a local business

 

In a recent study on the impact of online reviews on revenue, the Harvard Business Review found that as simple as a 1-star increase can lead up to a 9% increase in revenue in the restaurant industry. What’s more, the study also found a large difference in user preference of which business the consumer chose to work with based on a company’s online rating.

92% of users will use a local business if it has a 4 star rating.

Only 13% of users will use a local business if it has a 1 star rating.

 

There are numerous ways to build trust and exhibit your customer’s positive experiences. One of the main factors in developing your online reputation starts with having an HVAC / Plumbing Review Generation strategy in place. Just asking for a review is not enough to succeed. With 57% of consumers visiting a local business website after reading a positive review, your strategy must embody multiple media such as Yelp, Google +, Facebook, as well as the testimonials on your website.

 

Interesting online review statistics

  • Only 12% of consumers said they take no notice of online reviews (down from 17% in 2012)

  • Word of mouth (i.e. reviews) remains the primary route for recommending a local business (72%)

  • 57% have searched online for a local business more than 6 times / year

  • 85% of consumers say they read up to 10 reviews (2014)

Interested in increasing your online reviews? Give us a call at 1-800-727-3920 and let’s discuss how Recommend Me can impact your company’s lead flow.

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Responding to Online Reviews

Monday, April 20th, 2015

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In a recent Harris survey, the study found that only 68% of negative reviews receive a response. What’s more, out of that batch of negative reviews, 18% of reviewers reversed their opinion and became loyal brand advocates. Why? It’s all in your response. When your HVAC or plumbing company receives an online review, responding to this review is crucial to developing rapport. Yet in the end, it’s how you respond to that review that makes the difference.  Responding to reviews  is integral to managing your online reputation, absorbing feedback and praising or winning back customers.

On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs

Positive Reviews

When you receive that first rave review, it might be easy to just skip a response. However, at least take the time to thank the customer for the review. Acknowledging that they took time to share their experience with a simple thank you can go a long way. Customers have to feel empowered to write a review of your company, so don’t let that energy go to waste.

Responding to positive reviews can be broken down into 4 steps.

                                                          Acknolwedge + Listen + Praise + Follow-up                                                             

Here is an example response to a positive review: “Thank you for sharing your experience with our team. We’re glad we were able to get your system up and running again. We greatly appreciate your support and hope to continue working with you. If you need anything for the future, please let us know and we would be happy to help.”

The sample response above is short and simple.

  • Acknowledges the customer and thanks the customer for the reviews. 
  • Listens to their praise / concerns to address what work was completed.
  • Praises the customer for supporting the business.
  • Follows-up with the customer for any future questions or concerns.

Negative Reviews

Did you know that that only 4% of dissatisfied customers will voice their opinion? When you receive your first negative review, it might be daunting to think about how to respond. Negative reviews can be dealt with in a couple of steps. Start by stepping away from the review. When a negative review first comes in, it is easy to get defensive. Take a breather, and then take a look at what the review says.

Acknowledge the customer and their review. Whether or not you agree with the customer, it is a best practice to sometimes take the high road in situations like this. How you respond to a review is just another factor in how people evaluate your business. Public responses can reveal a lot about how you deal with both positive and negative situations.

There is always an opportunity to make things right. A good tip is to take the resolution offline. Ask the customer to call or reach out to you for further customer service. By discussing the issue offline you hopefully will not keep a public record of your conversation.

Responding to negative reviews can be broken down into 3 steps.

Acknowledge + Listen/Feedback + Follow-up

A good example of a negative review response is:

“We apologize for your negative experience with our team. We understand your frustration with the service provided. We take all of our reviews as feedback on how to improve our business. It is not our intention to provide such an experience.

We want to make things right for you. If you could give me a call at 123-456-7890, I would like to speak with you further regarding this matter. Thank you.”

The sample response above is short and simple.

  •   Acknowledges the customer for the review.
  •  Listens to their feedback and concerns to show empathy towards the situation.
  • Follows-up with the customer to remedy the situation.

If further information is needed, or if you want to speak with the customer, reach out privately and ask them to contact you directly. This demonstrates to the customer that you are genuinely concerned about the matter and want to make things right.

Not every situation can be resolved with a response or private message. Some customers might be stubborn about the situation and not respond; some reviews might even contain false information. By responding even to negative reviews, other reviewers see that you genuinely care about keeping your customers happy.” or something along those lines.

If you do see a false or fictitious review, you can review the Terms of Service of the website that the review was posted on. In most instances, there are ways you can flag and report reviews that you think could be fakes. This won’t allow you to have any and all negative reviews removed from the site. However, if the negative review in question violates the website’s terms of service, you may be able to have that specific review taken down.

Respond In a Timely Manner

After you take a step back from the situation, make sure you have a system in play for managing your reviews. You don’t want a review going unaddressed for months after being received.  Timeliness is important here, because it shows potential customers reading the reviews that customer service is important and their comments and concerns are addressed.

Conclusion

Whether you receive a 5-star or a 1-star review, treat both with similar practices. Nobody wants to go unnoticed. Make sure you acknowledge all reviews, and adjust your response depending upon the context of the review itself.

Customers share their experiences online because they want to be heard. Don’t let another review go without a response.

Questions or comments? Let us know how you manage your reviews, or ask any questions you may have about responding to online reviews.

 

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3 Steps You Can Take To Increase Reviews for Your Business

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

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Reviews are an important part of your business and bottom line. We’ve already established the impact that reviews have on your business in our previous blog post: HVAC / Plumbing: Importance of Online Reviews for HVAC / Plumbing Industries. If you want to start taking action to build your online review presence, you can start by implementing a review strategy. Three things you can do to get started to increase reviews are: setup and claim your profiles, ask for reviews, and integrate reviews into your existing marketing efforts.

Step 1 – Setup and claim your listings and profiles

Whether you have control over your listings or not, there will always be a way for customers to leave a review if they want to. So taking control of your listings is recommended to get started with your review management and generation efforts.

There are hundreds of directories and websites online where your customer can leave you reviews. We recommend setting up and claiming sites 2 to 3 popular directories known in your geographic region. Popular review sites and directories include Google+ and Yelp.

Once you’ve determined what listings would best increase your visibility, the next step is to make sure the listings are claimed and verified. This will ensure accurate and consistent business details on the listing of your choice and will allow you to setup email alerts and notifications.

Step 2 – Asking for reviews

Now that you’re setup with the listings and directories you want, the reviews will just come flowing in. Right? Wrong! Online review generation is not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy.

Asking customers to review your business is a much debated practice. Some say that it isn’t ethical to ask for reviews and even suggest that it could be perceived as a form of solicitation. Others suggest that asking does not hurt and you won’t know if you don’t try.

When you receive a compliment or a kudos from a customer in-person, over the phone, or by email, this is a perfect time to ask that happy customer to share their feedback on one of your online review sites.

Don’t offer an incentive or discount for people to “Leave a 5-star Review.” Incentives and discounts can be perceived as an unethical practice and violates the Terms of Service on many directories. If you are caught incentivizing users to harvest reviews, those 5 star reviews may be taken away in addition to other repercussions.

Step 3 – Integrate reviews into your existing marketing efforts and strategies

Integrate reviews into your existing marketing efforts and strategies to reinforce your review strategy. Adding more opportunities for your customers to find and see your reviews, will provide opportunities for clients to review your business at the listing or directory of their choice. Below are just a couple of examples where you can integrate reviews.

On your website: Placing a link or banner to the listings or directories you are active on can make it easier for customers to find where to read and write reviews for your business.

Email signatures: Do you send emails to your customers, either directly or through an email list? Place the links for your review sites with a simple note such as, “We appreciate your feedback,” or “Your feedback helps us to better serve you.” Inserting a call to action within the links will maximize your customer feedback rate and help to increase review generation.

When your business is ready to start implementing reviews as a part of your marketing strategy, the steps above are a good place to begin.

What has your experience been with reviews for your business? Please share in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.

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Importance of Online Reviews for HVAC / Plumbing Industries

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Importance of Online Reviews for HVAC / Plumbing Industries

With only 12% of consumers saying that they take NO notice of online reviews, doesn’t it seem obvious for your company to have a well-rounded online reputation to succeed? Customers are sharing their opinion and experiences online more than ever. Review sites have become an integrated part of the purchasing decision process to help customers evaluate your business with your competitors. Online reviews are a key factor in your customer’s purchasing decision impacting your business with new lead generation, stronger customer loyalty and a reduction in buyer’s remorse.

Before your customer begins the evaluation process, the first step of “Need Recognition” must be realized. Once your customer’s need is recognized the customer will continue through to the next process, “Information Search”. The Information Search process is designed to absorb information from everything internal (memory) and external (word-of-mouth, online reviews) relating to the purchase. Depending on the product and price, the information search process can change the duration and quality of research conducted. One example could be purchasing a $10,000 comfort system compared to buying groceries. The larger purchase of the HVAC system will be a much lengthier and in-depth research process.

57% of user searches on Yelp are based on the category of Home / Local Services.

Customer review websites are key to the consumer decision making process due to the sum reviews influence on the information search process. With word-of-mouth having one of the most powerful influences on a purchase, having a multitude of opinions can develop clearer information that can be easily absorbed by the consumer.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

You are a customer hiring a HVAC company to install a $5,000 geothermal heat pump. Which company would you do business with?

Davidson Heating, Air & Plumbing

4 star

45 reviews
Heating & Air Conditioning/HVAC

Timeless HVAC

2.5 star

6 reviews
Heating & Air Conditioning/HVAC

Chances are that most of you decided to work with Davidson Heating, Air & Plumbing because of the quantity and quality of reviews.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Now imagine if you were the customer hiring a HVAC company to perform $200 water heater repair, which company would you find more appealing to do business with?

Davidson Heating, Air & Plumbing

4 star

45 reviews
Heating & Air Conditioning/HVAC

Timeless HVAC

2.5 star

6 reviews
Heating & Air Conditioning/HVAC

  • $155 for $200 Deal

Even if your company does not have the best online reputation, price can be an influencing factor towards a purchasing decision. Chances are if there was no incentive, you probably would have not even begun to consider Timeless HVAC as an option. By influencing price it has probably made your decision more difficult. As consumers, we evaluate and process information every day to see what benefits us the most. Reviews allow us to easily absorb relevant information in order to make an informed decision and reduce buyer’s remorse.

Why Online Reviews?
Online reviews are designed to categorize and simplify data by user’s experiences and transforming it into information. With the lack of personal experience, consumers rely upon the opinion of others to help influence their decision. With 88% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendations, developing your online reputation is an easy way to build that trust.

90% of Yelp users say positive reviews impact their buying choices.

Review websites are an extremely powerful deciding factor for consumers. Both quantity and quality of reviews heavily influence their purchase. In one study conducted from Merchant Warehouse found 93% of people who conduct research on review sites will make a purchase from one of websites that they researched.

Building trust starts with your business model. In the HVAC and Plumbing industries, we have the opportunity to “Save the Day” with a customer who does not know what to expect. Even when a technician is on the job site, they have a perfect chance to impress the customer with their knowledge. It’s these positive interactions that empower users to share their experiences.

Other Key Online Review Statistics

  • 87% of small businesses don’t actively use review sites
  • 89% of consumers who research reviews make a purchase in less than a week
  • 84% of Yelp users conducting research will also consult Google+ local for reviews.
  • 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (vs. 72% in 2012)

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Your Online Reputation: Testimonials, Reviews, and How to Protect Your Business

Monday, February 20th, 2012

More and more people are turning to the internet to find local businesses. You probably already know that having a website is key for finding new customers and getting new leads. But do you ever think about your company’s online reputation?

While many people used to reply on word-of-mouth to find out which plumber was the best, the internet has changed where people are seeking out these recommendations. Instead of having to ask their neighbor or their cousin about a service company, they can now simply Google your company’s name to bring up dozens of popular review sites and possibly hundreds of reviews of your business. And over 70 percent of people trust online reviews.

The Good and the Bad

The good news is that a few good reviews on some important sites, like Yelp and Google Places, can have a big impact on your business. When a new customer is making a decision about which contractor to hire, some glowing testimonials about your business can make it stand out among its competitors.

The bad news, of course, is that a few bad reviews can have the opposite effect. Why would you hire a contractor if someone is claiming they are a scam artist?  Some more disreputable competitors can leave fake negative reviews about your company, and it is often very difficult to get these reviews removed. While it might seem that these aren’t a big deal, these rad reviews can be pulled onto other websites and spread throughout the web, damaging your image and giving your company a bad name.

On-Site Testimonials

So, what can you do? One of the easiest ways to show your company to its best advantage is to have testimonials right on your website. These should be real testimonials from your recent customers; many people can spot a fake a mile away. Not only does this build confidence in people considering your business, it also is great new content for your site (which Google loves). Testimonials can be shared on your social media profiles and your blog, and it’s an easy way to connect with both new and old customers. The testimonials also contain important key words, for example:

“Whenever I have called COMPANY for a plumbing problem, they are here in less than an hour. My old plumber took 3 days at best!”

There is no downside to having testimonials on your site; the hardest part is collecting them. Leave a postcard after a service call that a customer can mail in, or encourage them to fill out a survey on your website. If you do a good job, most people would be happy to write a short recommendation of your company.

Review Sites

A much more difficult task is getting customers to leave real reviews on websites such as Yelp and Google Places. However, since more and more people are turning to these review sites to evaluate businesses, it is very important to have a strategy to get customers to leave reviews of your company.

The first step is claim your profile on these websites, so if someone does leave a bad review, you can respond as the owner and try to resolve the problem. Even if the customer does not respond to your message, it helps mitigate the effect of the negative review by showing other potential customers your good faith effort to make amends.

Getting good reviews might seem difficult, but just like getting testimonials, it is all about consistently asking your customers to write these recommendations.  You can make it very easy for them by linking to these review sites right from your own website, with even a simple call out such as: “Rate Our Service”. You can also email customers after a service call to encourage them to help your business by leaving a review. Another advantage of getting these reviews on external sites is that listings with more reviews tend to show up higher in search results.

Fake Reviews

It might seem tempting to put up fake reviews on your business profile, the long term effects can be very bad for your business. Fake reviews are often easy to spot if you know what to look for: reviews that sound like advertisements, reviewers who have left hundreds of reviews for companies all over the country (all five stars), and tons of reviews for a company all left on the same day. More and more people are becoming adept at finding these patterns and it can cause people to distrust your reviews, and even worse, they might lose faith in your business. Integrity and value are key factors people look for when choosing a service company, so few things are more devastating than being perceived as untrustworthy.

Conclusion:

A recent article in Forbes explained why customer service is the new marketing, and the big businesses out there are turning to review sites as part of their PR strategy. When faced with a lot of options, people are using online reviews to help them make their final decision on what to buy and who to hire. You can no longer ignore your company’s online reputation and hope for the best, every company needs to develop a strategy to get good reviews out there and respond to the bad ones:

  1. Get testimonials for your website
  2. Claim your business profiles
  3. Respond to negative reviews
  4. Ask your customers to leave good reviews

None of these steps are very complicated, but you need to make these a part of your overall marketing plan. iMarket also offers a reputation management program so that you can make sure that your company’s good reputation is actively being built and maintained. Contact us today for more details!

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