They say the best way to find out what people think of your product is to charge them for it. Luckily for our industry, our customers pay big bucks for what we do (“I paid all this money” is an unfortunate customer refrain we hear from time to time). Projects running into the millions tend to produce feedback. Most of it, however, is generated when things go wrong. What would happen if we asked for feedback on every job? We decided to find out.
If happy people tell three people about their experiences with your company, angry people tend to tell 15. While feedback used to be localized and hard to come by consistently, today’s array of search engines, social media sites and services like Angie’s List, Yelp! and Houzz have made reviewing businesses a snap. Unfortunately, the same offline rules hold true when it comes to happy vs. angry people online. Happy people need to be asked to share their experiences beyond three folks, whereas there isn't enough duct tape in the world to shut up the angry guy. Of course, the online angry guy is now telling hundreds of people vs. just 15.
Dissatisfied customers share on their own and happy customers need to be asked to shout from the rooftops (there are exceptions to every rule). We can’t change that and complaining won’t do any good. Instead of sitting around and waiting for the occasional happy review, we decided to solicit survey feedback from everyone we do business with.
We learned two years ago that third-party online reviews boost search results and are looked on favorably by Google. There aren’t many of these third-party review sites authorized by Google (here’s the list) and we ended up settling on a site called Trustpilot after I received a really cool email solicitation from a rental car site after turning my car in (I’m using Trustpilot as an example; there are many other similar services). I wanted to deliver the same kind of simple email to our customers, and it wasn't long before we signed up with Trustpilot and integrated its automated email capabilities into our CRM (customer relationship management) software. Only verified Livewire customers are allowed to review us (our site is here), and we display a rotating slider of recent reviews on the bottom of our home page here. The automation part is key. I don’t know about you, but manual processes in our business tend to go the way of New Year’s resolution gym rats after about four weeks.
Because we knew our customers were going to be talking about us anyway, creating the feedback venue seemed like a no brainer. The key for us has been the third-party nature of Trustpilot. When customers are solicited for feedback, the email comes from Trustpilot. We find customers are more willing to share opinions in an environment they perceive to be objective and free of spin. To that end, we publish all our reviews (even the stars!). Luckily, an overwhelming majority of our reviews are 4 or 5 stars. That means when someone does a Google search for “home theater installation Richmond VA” our Adwords show up with our star rating represented graphically (which also means our competitors don’t!) Differentiation in a text-only ad is a huge plus for us.
We pride ourselves on customer service and knew that by publishing all our reviews we could attract new business. We also knew our competitors would have a hard time achieving the same level of satisfaction rating with a third-party review site like Trustpilot. There are plenty of third-party review sites, but most allow editorial control for the business, resulting in a watered-down subjective feed (which is why there’s such a short list of Google authorized services). If you’re anything like us, you can do the same thing in your market and gain a critical edge over your competitors, not to mention the priceless opportunity to constantly hear how you’re doing from the people who pay the bills.
Stay frosty and see you in the field.