Being engaged on social media has allowed me to interact with consumers in new ways and build brand awareness and credibility through online reviews. Social media platforms and social networking sites impact business in a major way; they make it easier than ever before to obtain information. Therefore, it is critical that your snow removal company responsibly manages its online reputation.
Specifically, I am suggesting your company devise a system to promote positive online reviews, respond to negative reviews and reward loyal clients who rave about your service online.
Actively seeking positive reviews from your customers might seem like a daunting task that may not net any return on your time invested. However, you should have a systematic way to solicit these reviews to boost your ranking on social sites. Social media platforms such as Google, Yelp, Angie’s List and Facebook are concerned with their users’ experiences and providing them with the best solution(s) in their search for service companies and/or contractors. In short, positive reviews will land you at the top of the search page.
The best approach I have found is to create a process of surveying your clients on a regular basis. Consider having them answer five or six questions about your service. At Callahan’s, we ask the following yes/no questions:
• Are you satisfied with our service?
• Would you recommend our service to a friend or family member?
• Would you give our service a four- or five-star review out of five possible stars?
• Was our service agreement clear?
• Were our service and billing accurate and timely?
Next, we sort our customers based on their responses to the questions we ask. Customers who said they would give us a four- or five-star review are asked to post a positive review on various review sites. We follow up on every positive review posted by a customer. We comment on the review directly and simply thank the customer for their feedback and their business. There are times we even send handwritten thank-you notes to our loyal customers who consistently positively review our company.
Unfortunately, not every review is going to be a positive one. First and foremost, any customers who reported through the survey that they would not give our service a four- or five-star review are – processed by our office and assigned to our “Customer Love Team.”
This team calls the customer or goes directly to the property to remedy the situation. Negative online reviews are handled the same as positive reviews; we comment directly on each one. Remember, the worst thing a contractor can do is argue with a customer, even if you are correct.
In fact, negative reviews are actually a great thing, in moderation. A negative review gives you an opportunity to publicly own up to the problem and stand behind your service guarantee while gaining the trust of potential consumers by fixing issues that may arise.
After you solve the customer’s problem, go back to the original review and write a summary of how you fixed it. It is also a good idea to privately contact the customer and ask them to adjust their rating of your company if they were happy with the way you handled their problem.
If you are looking for ways to take your social review strategy to the next level, I would suggest applying automation. Automation will ensure your surveys are disseminated on time every time. In addition, automation can allow for systematic follow up through automated emails to ensure the customer posts their review.
You may also want to try raffling off something. If the goal is get as many reviews as possible to outrank your local competition, then offering a raffle may boost your numbers. Offer one raffle entry per review posted. You can consider offering free plowing, an iPad or a number of other prizes. Select prizes that will have enough value to motivate customers.
Remember, although we may not be able to control the winter weather, we have the choice to control our online reputation. Consider documenting a social review strategy for your company this year and plow your way to positive reviews online.
Mike Callahan is owner of Callahan Lawn Care and Property Maintenance in New York. He has been in the snow business for 20 years.