A wise man in the digital marketing and home services industry once said: complacency has no vacancy. Hey…that’d make a great t-shirt!
On today’s episode of the podcast, Chris Yano and Litify founder and CEO Zach Garrett chat about the effects of online reviews in the home services industry and beyond as well as how business owners can optimize their online reputation by connecting with their customers.
Zach Garrett began his marketing career in B2B marketing and did digital marketing for fortune 5000 companies. Starting his own company, now known as Litify (the most effective and simplest way to accelerate online reviews and stand out above the competition for BTB and BTC companies) came out of a need of his own when he needed several home repairs and installations on his own house. The way he narrowed down companies for the services he needed was purely by reading their online reviews. To his surprise, he found that many companies didn’t have recent reviews to show off the current customer experience. This inspired him to reach out to companies like this to optimize their online reviews as a side job. It started as a way to help out local companies, then before he knew it he was jumping into this career full time.
Now Garrett works with major franchise brands and currently has over 1,000 customers in the home services industry, including California Closets, Floor Coverings International etc. as well as some companies in the home services space. Zach has partnered up with RYNO Strategic Solutions in the past to help with our own online reviews as well as many RYNO clients.
Zach says he loves what he does because he gets to work alongside these amazing businesses and essentially help them tell their story to future customers.
Is there a threshold or specific review rating where you start to see a decline in business? According to Zach, the low bar is a 4.0- you do not want your rating to drop below that. A review rating of about 4.5 to 4.7 is the sweet spot for businesses of all kinds. Zach says that oftentimes, his clients come to him and say that want a 5.0 rating. After all, who doesn’t want a perfect score? But he warns that a perfect score can sound great on paper, but look suspicious to consumers. A major piece of online success for businesses is authenticity. A perfect score rating on any site looks fake and usually acts as a turn-off for potential customers.
Chris says when he’s vetting potential clients for RYNO he checks their current reviews to see what kind of challenges they’ll be up against should they decide to work together. He adds that, “anything below a 3.9 on the rating scale is hard to overcome.”
Trolls. We all hate ‘em. If you’re not familiar with the term, sometimes, as a business, you come across what’s known as “internet trolling.” Essentially people who comment unhelpful/offensive things anywhere there’s a forum or a comment section. This isn’t just reserved for influencers and celebrities. In the business world, people leave negative reviews for personal gain, to harm businesses, intentionally affect a company’s score, etc. It’s not easy to remove these reviews if they’re written convincingly and have no threats or perverse language being used.
Zach says the best first step if this happens to you is to reply to this review directly. Professionally and with a tone of concern for the customer. If you know for a fact this is a fake review, you can even go as far as to say that you don’t see their name in your database and that this was not a job that was performed. Readers will discredit the “troll’s” review pretty quickly after seeing that.
Secondly, you can report these bad reviews to Google. However, it’s time-consuming, and there needs to be merit behind wanting the removal. You can’t have a bad review taken down simply because a customer didn’t like the service and they are giving their genuine opinion.
The best defense against bad reviews or review trolling is actually offense. Do your best as a business to increase the number of positive reviews you have on your page. Reach out to past customers and ask if they would be willing to take the time to write an honest review to help your business. Zach says 95% of a business’s customer experiences are positive and hardly any of them leave reviews.
Garrett advises companies to be direct with their clients. A common mistake is that businesses rely on their technicians to get customer reviews. This game of telephone proves ineffective and disingenuous. If possible, automate the review process through email or text messages. It’s best to have it happen the same day as the service is completed, if possible.
If you want a boost in your reviews, you can go back and run a campaign for old customers to leave an honest review to help your business. This can be a simple ask or come with gentle incentives such as a discount on a future service. Re-capturing reviews is doable, but it’s best if it’s done while the memory is fresh. Asking a customer to leave a review shouldn’t feel like a transaction, so personalize the question! Your customers are more likely to take the time to do it if they feel like they’re giving back to a company that left them with a positive experience.
When is the ideal moment to ask for a review? It’s different for every industry. For some, it’s before the invoice. For others, it can be further out because you want the customer to see the long-term effects of working with you. The trick is to think about that and build a process around what that optimal time is.
Think about the time that your customer is going to be the most grateful for the service. If your business has something to do with home service (particularly a messy repair or installation), you may want to wait until the job is done, the mess is cleared away, and the customer gets to enjoy their new product or the results of the service.
Zach says when it comes to home services, what people are really reviewing is the process, the customer service, and if this is a company they would work with again. There are a lot of home services companies out there that can do the same thing…but it’s the experience rather than the product that sets them apart.
So what if one of your clients is skeptic about giving you their client database if they fear they might receive some bad reviews? What do you tell them? Zach says the goal is supposed to be a 4.5, so there should be realistic reviews. He recommends before sending out the request for customer feedback, take the time with your team vet your past clientele and send out the request to those customers you know mostly had a positive experience.
As a business you need to trust that every day you do a good job, serve people well and go ask. The reward is much greater than the risk.
Two of RYNO’s core values are integrity and transparency. From time to time there will be instances where you know as a company you did the best you could do and you can’t make this person happy no matter what you do. So does removing these experiences (even negative ones) take away from the integrity and transparency of your company?
Zach says that every customer should be allowed to be honest and transparent about their experience… but if someone that is willing to make up something untrue just because they want to affect your rating or harm your business, it’s okay to protect yourself from that. Again, you have to trust that you’ve done the best you can do with all your customers. You’d be surprised how when you earnestly ask for honest feedback, many people will be willing to give you a fair review even if they felt their experience wasn’t the best.
Do reviews that have a specific location or specific services included impact your rank in Google search results?
The fifth is a feature of leaving a google review. It’s a button that reads: did you work with this business? And it allows the user to choose services (or keywords) that were performed or purchased. With this feature, the user can tell Google what specific services they interacted with. Google sees this and attributes that to rank when someone is looking for something specific like “AC repair” or “toilet replacement,” for example.
Is there an indicator as a business owner that you’re doing enough? How do you know? Take the number of reviews from the last 30 days divided by the number of customers you’ve had in the last 30 days. This can tell you the percentage of customers to customer reviews and if you need to be increasing this. You should be getting at least 10% on the low bar for average customer reviews to the number of customers. 2% to 4% is the average for most companies before they get help because the number of customers they get clouds their vision of the number of reviews. 20% would be a healthy amount of customer reviews.
The price of working with someone like Zach to increase positive reviews for your business can range anywhere from $150 a month to $500 or more for high-end solutions. Litify is laser-focused on being the best in the world at driving more reviews and building your online reputation as a business. They don’t run on a “set it and forget it” mentality.
As a RYNO customer you can actually get a bit of a discount which is one of the great perks of that partnership!
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To hear more about how positive reviews can increase your online rank and bring in new customers, listen or watch this week’s podcast at the top of the page here, or Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and iHeartRadio!