• The Value of Online Customer Testimonials

    Jan. 24, 2012
    When was the last time you bought something without first checking out, either the product or the company? We call this doing our due diligence, research, or any other of a dozen names. What are your customers saying about your business?

    When was the last time you bought something without first checking out, either the product or the company? We call this doing our due diligence, research, or any other of a dozen names. What are your customers saying about your business? Have you heard about Angie’s List, or Yelp? These are just two of the online sites that allow customers to rate companies. How many of you allow customers to leave testimonials on your website?

    One of today’s leading trends is the growing importance of online reviews of products and testimonials about services. It doesn’t matter if it’s an online company, or traditional brick and mortar business, as consumers become more comfortable surfing the web to shop, and research companies and services, online reviews have become a significant forum for customers to praise businesses and vent their frustrations. Today everybody has a voice, and they are not shy about using it.

    Customer testimonials both positive and negative can be valuable tools for determining whether to buy a product or service or use a particular service company. When a potential customer reads what a current or past customer says, it helps them decide if they want to do business with your company. Don’t be afraid to allow negative comments to live on your testimonial page as long as there aren’t too many of them. Negative testimonials say as much about the customer as they do about the company.

    When a customer leaves negative feedback, do your best to rectify the situation. Unfortunately, you cannot always satisfy everybody. When you have made all reasonable efforts to resolve the problem but the customer is unwilling to work with you, you should post a follow-up to the comment stating that you attempted to correct the issues but could not reach a satisfactory resolution. Your potential customers will appreciate your honesty.

    Customers tend not to believe companies that have no negative feedback. As we all know, nobody is perfect so, your best bet is let people vent, as long as you don’t have too many of them. If you do, you must examine your processes, procedures, and employees to determine the cause of your negative feedback. In order to thrive in our digital world, you must correct your faults and publically acknowledge them and then move own. This can be a little tough to do but it will pay big dividends.

    If your business hasn’t started using customer testimonials, you may be uncomfortable about starting to allow customers to provide them. However, if you feel your company provides good service and value; testimonials will be a win-win for you. Review competitor websites and see if many of them are using testimonials, if they are, it will be imperative for you to have testimonials too in order to compete successfully. If they don’t use testimonials, you can pick up a significant competitive advantage by using them. You can become the leader in your market and set your company apart from your competition this way.

    Angie’s List is a website where customers find thousands of unbiased reports and reviews about service companies in their area. It allows customers search a local zip code to find the company who can provide a service and do it right the first time. Angie’s List started in Columbus, OH, in 1995 and is now nationwide. You should encourage your customers to write a review for you and post it on Angie’s List. Your customer doesn’t need to be a member of Angie’s List to leave a review.

    Yelp is a worldwide online urban city guide that helps people find cool places to eat, shop, drink, relax and play based on the informed opinions of a vibrant and active community of locals in the know. Yelp was founded in 2004 to help people find great local businesses. Yelp members have written over 22 million reviews for local companies. (From the Yelp website) This is another good place to have customers leave positive feedback. Feedback linked to your company can also help build your search results and give your website more visibility.

    Consider using testimonials in all of your marketing and advertising efforts both online and off line. Consistency makes marketing successful, so use these testimonials in everything you do. Remember to include a note that by leaving a testimonial a customer gives you the right to republish the testimonial in other mediums.

    My website contains links to all the marketing articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter. If you want your marketing efforts pay big dividends, contact a marketing professional. I’m available to assist you in all of your marketing efforts. If you need a branding consultation, a complete strategic marketing plan, help with lead generation, or reputation management services, call or send an email to discuss your needs.

    Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, PR, social media, and lead generation strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by showing them how to do more with less($). Contact him at 260-338-4554, [email protected] or visit the Fracica Enterprises, Inc. website.