It used to be that just having a website was enough to set you apart from your competitors. But now, everyone has a webpage, and you have to set your site apart somehow… For many, the solution they choose is to make their website flashy and unique. That’s good and fine, but when people are searching for a plumber, electrician, or other pro online, they’re not necessarily looking for the fanciest website or the one with the most bells and whistles. What they’re actually looking for is what other customers thought about your business. Whether you’re a roofer, car audio installer, or appliance repairman, online reviews can help show prospective customers what to expect from your company: the past satisfaction of other customers can predict the experience that future clients can anticipate receiving from you. Customers can leave reviews for you in many places, including on Google Maps and on your business’s Facebook page. They can also e-mail them to you, and you can have the PG team post them on your microsite. In fact, the same review can do double duty if your customers put them on both Google Maps and your Facebook page, so encourage them to leave reviews where they can be seen in multiple places on the web. The most important thing is that the reviews are out there for prospective customers to find. Perhaps you’re thinking that your customers aren’t going to take the time to write a review. While that might ordinarily be the case, you can make it worth their while to compose a review for you. Try offering them an incentive such as $10 off their next service. Not only will this help increase your stockpile of reviews but it can help assure repeat business! Here’s an example of some great reviews on 919 Motoring’s website. Their reviews point out that:
- Their prices are great.
- They’re better than their competitors.
- They’re honest and respectful.
Quite frankly, you probably couldn’t make up reviews better than these provided by their customers!
Faking It Isn’t Worth It
Speaking of making up reviews… Sometimes it might seem easier to just manufacture a few reviews and pretend they were written by customers, but that can get your company in serious trouble. It might look appealing to just dream up some reviews or “borrow” reviews from a similar company that’s, say, in another state, but this will end up biting you in the end. Not long ago, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) charged Legacy Learning Systems Inc. with disseminating deceptive advertising. This company, which sells a popular guitar lesson DVD series, settled with the FTC and will have to pay $250,000 to resolve the charges. The short story is that Legacy wasn’t even making up reviews: they were simply utilizing reviews written by a paid affiliate and promoting them as unbiased reviews. The full story is available here. And the Legacy case isn’t an isolated incident: two years ago, a cosmetic surgery company got caught writing fake reviews. They were charged in New York State for forcing employees to write fake reviews raving about how fantastic the company was. They also settled, to the tune of $300,000 in penalties and costs. You can find the full story here. In short, fake reviews equal real pain. When you’re obtaining reviews from customers, it’s probably a good idea to save a copy of the e-mail or at least save their contact info. That way, should you be required to prove the review came from a real customer, you’ll be able to!