As Guild of Master Craftsmen members, you’ll aready be aware that for a business to thrive, it’s essential for it to move with the times. Just consider the fates of retail giants such as BHS, House of Fraser and Mothercare in recent years – not quick enough on their toes to compete with online stores, they have simply vanished from the high street.
And it’s not just about where someone chooses to spend their hard-earned money. In the digital age, the customer truly is king (or queen). This shift has come about through the ‘voice’ they have been given through social media channels. Online reviews and feedback are today’s version of old-school word-of-mouth recommendations, and although the medium of communication may have changed, they are still the very lifeblood of small businesses like yours.
So if you haven’t started fully engaging with the customer feedback facility on your Find a Craftsman profile, here are some compelling reasons why you should…
The figures speak for themselves
Online reviews and ratings of businesses on sites like Yelp, Facebook, Google and TripAdvisor have the power to shape customer behaviour. According to research by conversion optimisation specialists invespcro.com, 90% of customers read online reviews before visiting a business. Not only that, but 88% of your potential customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Further, 32% of those quizzed read between 4–6 reviews before making up their mind about the company.
Taking the rough with the smooth
OK, the same research found that if a business has negative reviews, 86% of people will hesitate about buying from them (or in your case, hiring them). But while it’s tempting to think you’d be better off without any feedback in that case, customers will take an even dimmer view of your company if they can’t rate the service they’ve just received. And the key word here is hesitate. You’ve not lost the lead entirely, they’re just weighing up their options. There’s room to turn things around. Also, in the digital arena, everyone fully expects to be able to give their opinion on absolutely everything – from the movie they’ve just watched to the pair of gardening secateurs that has just arrived from Amazon. So it arouses suspicion if the option isn’t there.
Troubleshooting with grace
If someone has a valid reason to complain, the way you handle the communication – whether on the profile section or some other digital forum – can be turned to your advantage. Think about it: being defensive isn’t going to help sort the situation out and neither is it going to make other potential customers feel good. Far better to be gracious, accept responsibility for the issue and then make every effort to sort out the problem. And interestingly, 2017 analysis by customer software company ReviewTrackers found that customers perceive ‘perfect’ reviews as too good to be true. In fact, they appreciate less-than-perfect reviews and ratings as an important element in their research and decision-making process.
In a consumer review of 2,000 people by industry-leading advisory company Deloitte*, the majority admitted that family and friends, independent experts and yes, you guessed it, customer reviews/feedback are the most trusted sources of information. Further, only around one in 10 consumers turn to the product manufacturers or service providers (that’s you) for reassurance. This suggests that previous satisfied customers are actually the best ambassadors for your business, so it’s key that you actively encourage their feedback.
It’s valuable for your business, too
By asking your customers to provide you with honest online feedback, you are demonstrating that you value their opinions. It is also an essential tool to judge current customer satisfaction. How can you know where the tweaks need to happen if you aren’t regularly checking that the way you run your business is actually working? But it’s also invaluable information for you too – it can help you to identify the areas of the business you need to improve upon and sharpen up. And rather brilliantly, it’s free.
Make it easy
With the ever-increasing demands of modern-day life, many of your customers will be time poor. So your email request, asking them to fill in an in-depth questionnaire is likely to be ignored or filed under ‘to deal with later’. Keep it simple and take advantage of your GMC membership, by asking your customer to head to your company’s listing on findacraftsman.com and leave a review. There are just a handful of straightforward questions, asking your clients to grade the service they received from you from ‘poor’ through to ‘excellent’, plus an optional space for leaving a personal comment. You can also help prompt them to give their feedback by leaving a hard copy of the form with them when you finish the job. Request these forms from the Guild by calling 01273 478499.
Get your customers to engage
If you still doubt the power of customer feedback to help or hinder the fortunes of your company, 2017 analysis by customer software company ReviewTrackers found that only 3% of people don’t consider reviews when narrowing down their decision for choosing a service provider. So it’s vital to encourage your previous customers to give some kind of testimonial – however short and sweet – on your Findacraftsman.com profile. It really could make the difference between them picking you or clicking onto the next craftsman. Think about offering some kind of incentive – such as a gift voucher for an email address selected at random from those customers who have left feedback on your online page. Good luck!
*2014 Deloitte Consumer Review The Growing Power of Consumers