In today’s digitally-focused world, consumer reviews play a crucial role in the success of any business. According to a survey by BrightLocal, 91% of consumers aged 18-34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. And nearly nine out of 10 consult reviews when looking to hire a professional. That’s a huge percentage of potential customers who are looking to reviews before making a purchase or choosing a design professional.
Why are consumer reviews so important?
- They build trust: When consumers see that others have had positive experiences with your design firm, it builds trust and credibility.
- They influence buying decisions: The majority of consumers rely on online reviews to make purchasing decisions . This means that having positive reviews can greatly influence whether or not a potential customer decides to do business with you, or even reach out for that initial contact.
- They provide valuable feedback: Reviews give you feedback that will help your design firm better connect with clients and ensure that your offerings are hitting the mark. Both positive and negative feedback can help you to identify what’s working, what’s not and where you can do better.
So, how do you get reviews?
- It sounds obvious, but remember to ask your clients! This can be done verbally or via email when the job is completed, on social media if you see a client posting excitedly about their new kitchen or bath, or even with in-store signage. Be sure to thank customers who leave reviews and respond to any negative reviews in a professional and courteous manner.
- Use social media: Engage past and present clients with photos, quizzes, recipes and stories, and try to get them to share their own stories about their new kitchen or bath. When they do, thank them and ask if they would be willing to share their lovely story as a review for your business.
- Make it easy for your clients to leave a review: This should be a quick, simple and straightforward process. Include links to review sites on your website or social media pages, and consider offering incentives such as a discount for leaving a review. Be warned, however, that Google does not view reviews kindly if it perceives them to be “fake.” That doesn’t mean you can’t offer incentives for reviews, but you must offer the same incentive whether the review is good or poor. Yes, “rewarding” someone who gives your design firm a poor review may be a tough pill to swallow, the good news is that this can actually predispose the client to see you in a more favorable light, which can discourage future negative reviews.
- No matter how busy you are, always follow up with customers to ensure that they are satisfied. If your first inkling of a problem is when you read that bad review, you have a bigger problem than the review.
Monitor and respond politely to all reviews, both positive and negative. Your response can be short and simple; even just a “thank you for sharing your experience” will go a long way toward making your client feel noticed and heard (and will make people reading those reviews see you as more attentive and client-focused). But never be rude, even if you feel it’s deserved; your response is the one chance you’ll get at showing potential clients reading those reviews what type of person you are, and if you come across as rude or aggressive, you will likely be perceived poorly, even if the reviewer was in the wrong initially. You’ll also want to avoid responding with a canned script-type response; impersonal responses can be a huge turn off, especially in the design arena where clients are looking for someone who can create a space that speaks very personally to who they are and what they love.