Uber, the ridesharing company, has a reviews mechanism embedded in its process. The minute you arrive at your destination and exit your car, a message pops up asking for a review of the driver. There’s also a spot to report other positive attributes at the click of a button—“good conversation,” “entertaining,” “good navigator.” Lastly, there’s a place to leave a comment and send a tip.
Most Uber users take this step seriously. After all, the driver gets the same message to rate you, the passenger. And nobody wants to see their rating suffer. It could mean potentially missing out on future rides when demand is high.
This is reputation management taken to the next level. But we’ve all experienced similar prompts for other goods and services. We get them from retailers. We get them from the oil-change center. We get them from restaurants. And people are increasingly expecting to get them from remodelers and home improvement professionals.
Today, there are dozens of reputable online management reputation companies from which to pick. The reasons for hiring them are clear: You can either be proactive and take control of your online ratings and reviews, or you can cast yourself to the whims of past customers or worse—people who have never worked with you, but who are nonetheless posting a negative review.
Companies such as Broadly, Podium, Grade.us and ReviewTrackers offer a host of services, but the main service is to follow up with clients as soon as your company completes a job and to send out invitations for reviews. If a client says yes to having a good experience, then they will be prompted to quantify the number of stars, comments, etc. From there, the good reviews get posted to a number of partner sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, City Search and others, says online marketing expert Todd Bairstow, a founder of Keyword Connects.
“The first question is: Did you have a good experience with ABC contractor?” Bairstow explains. “And it’s worded very specifically like that. And if the answer is ‘yes,’ then up pops the stars, the categories and ‘leave a comment.’ And if the answer is ‘no’ they say, ‘We’re sorry. Can you tell us the nature of your complaint?’ They send negative experiences back to the home improvement company to deal with, but it doesn’t see the light of day in the search engines.”
Bairstow points out that your clients are still free to go to an online site and post a negative review about your business, but you’ve got many other positive reviews to balance them out. In general, the impact of reviews on a company is limited, Bairstow notes, because the vast majority of home improvement companies —“80 percent”—fall in a range where there are mostly positive reviews with some negative reviews. Only the bottom 5 percent, where there will be more than a dozen negative reviews and very few positive reviews, gets punished by prospective clients.
“When you go and look at the online review world, what you see is a really distributed and diffuse space,” Bairstow explains. “You can have five stars on one site and two stars on another site; a smiley face on one, a frown face on another; and in the search results, there looks like there are a ton of results. But this range of ratings from site to site ultimately makes it difficult to tell whether you are a good or bad company.”
Podium | podium.com
Podium is a not only a reputation-management software to post positive reviews. They are also set up to handle all of your interactions with your clients, from text messages to emails. These messages come to your control panel directly from the rating location. Every message comes to one inbox where you can answer questions directly. There is a full-reporting platform with reports on key words that your customers are using to describe your business. In addition, Podium offers a chat service that can be added to your website in order to provide quicker responses to potential customers.
Grade.us | grade.us
This company also has a range of services and is designed to be seen as 100 percent your own company’s service, which is known as white-labeling. All invitations for reviews and all interactions with client and leads, everything is branded the way you want it. You can monitor your review performances. Grade.us can help with inbound organic users to your website by offering tools such as special landing pages, lead-gen forms and prospect reports.
Broadly | broadly.com
Broadly’s primary service is a platform for automated reviews, as described by Bairstow above. It is widely used across many small business industries. The second service offered is a web chat platform to engage with customers who find your site. Lastly, Broadly offers a lead-management software platform, so you can screen prospects and communicate with them at each step of your sales and installation process. The services are all available on a mobile app that you can use to chat with customers, manage contact lists and respond to reviews. QR