Whether it’s buying a holiday, a car, or new gadget to play with I invariably check out reviews online and when ever possible I seek out the independent reviews written by regular folks like you and me...
Yes I know that these can be manipulated by the occasional misguided and naive marketeer or business owner (come on guys we can see through false reviews a mile off) but on the whole I find the process pretty much integral to my selection process.
I’ll also use them when selecting a field service company to come to my house and undertake some form of home maintenance. Plumbers, Electricians, Decorators etc.
Small businesses such as these have always held word of mouth close to their heart as without the resources to undertake a sophisticated marketing campaign recommendations are the lifeblood of their ongoing success. So for companies such as these the online reviews – the digital equivalent to a word of mouth recommendation are also vitally important.
Of course negative feedback has it’s value too and the savvy businesss owner will be abld to look at the recurring weaknesses and apply field service management tools like work order histories and intuitive scheduling and dispatching to try and continuously improve their service levels. By doing so they increase the chances of more positive reviews and therefore more business.
A sound theory for sure but does it actually stack up in practice?
To test the power of online reviews for SME home maintenance companies technology consultancy Software Advice surveyed home maintenance customers to determine how they used online reviews sites to select home maintenance companies and here we look at some of the key findings of the research.
- A majority of respondents (68 percent) say they find online reviews to be “extremely” or “very valuable” when evaluating residential service providers.
- The most important information respondents look for in online reviews is the quality of service provided (87 percent) and cost (78 percent).
- Fifty-six percent of respondents say they used online resources to find their most recent residential service provider.
- Eighty-six percent of respondents would pay more for a residential service provider with higher ratings and reviews.
Many Would Pay More for Well-Reviewed Service Provider
Perhaps the most interesting statistic that the findings unearthed was that cost was not the most significant factor in selecting a company to provide home maintenance. In fact an overwhelming majority of respondents said they would pay more for a service provider with higher rankings and better reviews, versus paying less for a provider that didn't.
In all, 86 percent of respondents said they would pay more, to some degree, for a service provider with more positive reviews. Clearly, there is real revenue-generating potential for businesses with positive online reviews.
“Consumers highly value their dollars spent, and are typically willing to pay a higher price for what they believe is a better service or product,” explains Chris Sullens, CEO of Marathon Data Systems.
“Word of mouth has [been], and always will be, one of the strongest points of persuasion for consumers; now it is just digitised, and they trust what other consumers have to say more than any marketing material they might see.”
In fact it is service standards that are being sought after the most form home maintenance providers when people are reviewing customer reviews and not cost.
Among respondents to the survey 87 percent were seeking information on the quality of services provided, while 78 percent were seeking pricing and cost information.
So whilst both are significant factors it is interesting that especially when it comes to inviting workmen into their homes they value service standards ahead of costs.
Ninety-Six Percent Find Online Reviews Moderately to Extremely Valuable
It’s also interesting to see that I am not alone in finding reviews helpful. In fact it is an almost universal habit with 96% of the respondents stating they found online reviews at least moderately valuable.
This can be broken down further with a quarter of all respondents finding the reviews ‘extremely valuable’ and just shy of half (43%) finding them very valuable.
Sullens commented the value of these online reviews stems from the snapshots they provide of businesses’ relationships with their customers.
“Putting an emphasis on customer relationships can certainly help,” he says. “If a business consistently provides high-quality services, competitive pricing and quote accuracy, positive word-of-mouth from satisfied customers will come easily.”
Some highly interesting findings there for sure and should you want to know more then you can read the full report at http://www.softwareadvice.com/field-service/industryview/online-reviews-report-2015/