A company called BrightLocal, late last year, released a survey of how people interact with customer reviews, and the results were interesting enough that when I stumbled upon it, I decided I had to share. Different people have had a lot of different takeaways from reading the survey, but the lesson that I learned is that a company’s online reputation matters significantly more than they think it does, even if they already think it matters quite a bit.
The biggest reason why:
85% of respondents said that they read at least one online customer review before they first transact with a local business.
Eighty-five percent — that’s 17 out of every 20 customers — is prone to looking you up before they interact with you in any way that you’d notice. If they look you up (and this can be either in terms of a potential owner looking for a property manager or in terms of a potential tenant looking for the right place to live!) and they see as many or more complaints than raves, you just lost a client and/or tenant.
On The Plus Side
If you happen to have mostly good reviews — everyone gets the occasional nutjob who gripes loudly over nothing, and most surfers realize that these days — but if you get mostly good reviews, you may well end up with a client or tenant coming to you ready for business. No need to sell yourself; they want what you’re offering and they want it up front and with as little fuss as possible. That’s because…
Customer Reviews are Read by People who have Already Decided to Buy
One of the biggest concepts in online marketing is “targeting” — if your ads are falling mostly on the screens of people looking for information rather than looking to spend money, they’re going to end up with a crap ROI. Customer reviews are not only free advertising, they’re among the most effective advertising, because no one reads them for fun (the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer notwithstanding.) If someone is reading a customer review of your services, it’s because they want your services, end of story.
So…How do I Get Good Customer Reviews Online?
There are two parts to obtaining some of this excellent free marketing:
Be an amazing property manager.
Ask your clients and tenants to review you online.
The process of ‘being an awesome property manager’ is way too multifaceted for me to tackle it here in any useful detail. I’m going to assume that you’re smart enough to figure most of that part out on your own, and get into that second part instead.
Obviously, the best time to ask someone to review your services online is when you just did something above and beyond for them. If you just installed a new fridge, for example — keep a few special business cards on you that have the web address of your Yelp profile or something similar, and simply give it to them and ask them to mention you on the page. It doesn’t have to come with any sort of further incentive; just take advantage of their goodwill. Trying to further incentivize a good review will leave a distinct bad taste in some people’s mouths — but if you don’t at least invite them to review, only the people who want to gripe will think to do it. Get some people who are happy with you to get on the Internet and tell people how they’re feeling, and the results will speak for themselves.