Sure, your mom always told you that it isn’t nice to judge. But the truth of the matter is that in the professional world, we’re all judged. Don’t fret, though—being judged can actually be a good thing.
In this day and age customer service reviews move at the speed of light—or at least at the speed of the average internet connection. As if you need any more reason to improve customer service, here’s another one: Good customer service may very well work as a powerful PR and marketing tool for your business.
Online sites like Yelp and Angie’s List are quickly becoming some of the go-to-sources upon which the public bases its selection of service providers. On these open forums past customers rate and review your business, allowing potential customers to see how you rank against your competitors. Here’s how you can make the jury of public opinion work on your behalf.
Since its inception in 2004, Yelp has grown exponentially — the site now gets up to 31 million visits per month (as of March 2010). In other words, Yelp reviews are serious business. Over the course of the past few years, Yelp has come to be regarded as a reliable, accurate source for business and service referals. Don’t underestimate the power of Yelp reviews or their importance to the success of your business.
While you can’t control content on Yelp, you can encourage happy customers to rate and review your business. It’s also important that you monitor your Yelp business page. If you see an unhappy customer post a review, turn it into a positive. Contact that person to address their issue and improve their experience with your company. Many Yelpers are quite conscientious about updating and editing reviews to document such resolutions. Also remember that Yelp’s rating system works on averages. In other words, if one or two disgruntled customers give you an unfair low rating, rest assured that more even-keeled ratings will average this out.
Business owners can get in on the Yelp scene too. Special business accounts can be set up for free. Once this account is initiated, you can post things like special offers and discounts to Yelpers, which will appear under your business listing. From here you can also update basic business information, track traffic to your Yelp business page, interact with reviewers, and receive notifications when your business is reviewed.
In business since 1995, Angie’s List is a bit more targeted than Yelp. You won’t find listings for things like restaurants and shops here—it’s limited to service providers and is especially targeted to homeowners and home repair issues. More than one million consumers actually pay a subscription fee to join Angie’s List and, for that fee, they rely on the customer-generated reports and reviews provided by the web site. Along with ratings (which appear as a “grade”) and reviews, customers also receive information on service providers’ prices, professionalism, and timeliness.
Business owners can click here to add their company information to the Angie’s List directory. This free account will also allow you to monitor and respond to your customer reports. As with Yelp, property managers can offer Angie’s List members discounts and special offers, but cannot affect their own business’ rating. On the Angie’s List Company Connect page you can actually find a link to a form specifically designed for business owners to distribute to customers so that you can encourage satisfied customers to share their experience.
Customer review sites like Angie’s List and Yelp can be your best friend. Not only do they spread the good word about your business, but they also provide your property management company with a very visible online presence, word-of-mouth referrals, potentially good marketing, and that extra little nudge to keep your customer service as satisfactory as possible.Read more on Marketing