Are bad reviews giving your company a bad name? Let’s face it, having anything less than an outstanding rating on popular social media review sites makes your business unattractive online and almost certainly drives potential customers away from you and towards your competition. 

Online is where your customers go to be smarter buyers by determining if a company is reliable or has a record of providing quality service. Did you know that 77% of online shoppers use reviews to help them make buying decisions? That staggering number is not just people who shop online for retail purchases; it refers to anyone who searches online for a product or service to help solve a problem.

So how do you make sure potential customers see your good reviews? Is there a way that you can control what’s being said online?

I asked myself those same questions some time ago. As a plumbing, heating, and cooling contractor who receives more than 70% of my business online, having negative or even low-rated reviews had the potential to significantly decrease my business. This possibility scared the heck out of me. 

Through trial, error, years of research, and sleepless nights, I learned that marketing has completely shifted from being creative-powered to people-powered. It’s no longer about creating enticing offers and slick marketing campaigns. 

Being people-powered means employees are now a service company’s greatest marketing asset. The ability of your people to provide remarkable service is what will convert happy customers into online promoters. So remember the new rule: the company that rocks with reviews rules the market.

Be ‘Remark-able’

How do you get great reviews from actual customers? Look at operations, not marketing. You must deliver a remarkable experience. When I say remarkable I literally mean remark-able. The customers need an experience worth remarking about.

The great news is you don’t have to recreate the wheel to create a remarkable company. Being remarkable is the hidden-in-plain-sight secret to more sales and company profitability.

I discovered that the secret to today’s marketing was leveraging my number one marketing asset, and that asset was right in front of me. It was the people around me, such as my customer service representatives, dispatchers, service technicians, sales personnel, and even the staff assistants. It’s the same at your company: your people are the single most important company asset, more important than your trucks, shop, and tools combined. Without “the right people on the bus,” to quote Good to Great author Jim Collins, you can’t accomplish half of what you can if you have great people. That’s truer than ever when it comes to generating great online reviews.

Three Steps to Great Reviews

Here are three steps to generating great online reviews and explosive growth:

1. Don’t chase the score. Rather than scramble in search for a short-term solution, recognize what ingredients you need to achieve a remarkable reputation.

2. Start with your people. Recognition is more powerful than we realize, especially for entrepreneurs who almost never get a pat on the back. Recognize your people. Make sure they have the training and, more importantly, the DNA to create a truly remarkable experience.

3. Recognize the power of the reward. A reward goes a long way because it’s confirmation that the person is doing the right thing. You can’t incentivize your customers with money — that can get you removed and de-indexed from Google. However, what you can do to incentivize your customers is deliver a remarkable experience so they feel compelled to tell the world about a particular employee or an extraordinary company.

Encourage your people to ask customers to write a review about their positive experience with your company.  Then make sure to thank your review earners by honoring them in company meetings, or get creative and host special “review rallies” to celebrate winning together.

Because of the transparency enabled by the Internet, creating a remarkable online reputation is simply your ability to provide remarkable service and convert happy customers into online promoters. It is customers’ willingness to step up and provide positive reviews that will make or break service companies today and in the future.  

Mike Montano is the president of 1-800-Anytyme, a plumbing, heating, and air conditioning service company in Southern California. He is also the author of the book Stop Marketing, Be Remarkable! and the founder of ReviewBuzz, a people-powered patent-pending reputation development and management system designed to generate real, positive public reviews on sites such as Facebook, Google, and Yelp. For more information, call 888/Win-Buzz or email Mike@reviewbuzz.com.