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Online Referrals: The 21st Century Word-of-Mouth

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It is human nature to want to share our experiences, and word-of-mouth is still as powerful as it always has been for the trades. 

But the way customers are communicating with one another is changing. A large part of our communication is now happening online, and “Googling” has become part of daily life. This means your customers will be researching your business using the internet before making a decision whether to employ you, so it’s imperative that the information they find gives them a good impression!

It’s all about trust, and with a little management, online referral sites can generate big business.

Here are our tips for success: 

  • Customer service – make sure your customer service is something to shout about. Be friendly, reliable and professional, and customers are much more likely to talk about you.
  • Respond to reviews – thank a customer for a positive review, and deal with any negative feedback in a professional and diplomatic manner.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask – encourage happy customers to spread the word through their own social networks, as well as on your own.
  • Keep reviews authentic – customers will be put off if feedback does not feel genuine.
  • Link up – Have a good website and make sure it’s linked to any profiles you have on social media and review sites; it will all help to build a positive picture in your customer’s mind to make sure you are the one they call.

Reviews for free…

Social media sites are accessed by a huge customer base which makes them a valuable marketing tool for building services installers.

If you have a Facebook profile for your business, your customers can provide a star rating for your business, and can also provide a written review.  Facebook is very popular with the general public (aka your customers!) and its business review function is very well used.

If a customer searches for your business using Google, often Google reviews will feature high up in the results so it’s well worth claiming your listing on Google+ and then asking your customers to rate and review your services.  This will not only ensure a good first impression of your business, but also boost your Google rankings.

Paid for options…

If you’ve got some money to spend, you could join a specialist review site.

Checkatrade encourages feedback by providing ready-to-return customer comment cards designed to build your reputation.  Recommendations are shared with the general public online; 2.2 million reviews have been posted to date and last year, 6 million people searched for tradespeople on the site.  Membership costs start at £12 + VAT per week.

You can create a profile on Which? Trusted Traders displaying contact details and logo alongside reviews and an overall rating.  The service is wide reaching; your profile is visible to 800,000 Which? members, as well as general UK consumers.  Annual fees vary from £480 – £840, but a positive rating from this trusted brand could result in new customers, making the cost worth your while.

Alternatively, on sites such as Rated People, you can purchase job leads for an average of £15+VAT.  Your customers provide review of your work, which help build your reputation making you more attractive to new clients and allowing you to win more work from the site.

Take control

Chances are your business already has a profile online, whether you’ve created it or not. Why not take control of your online profile and make it work for you?

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