By Jerri Stroud, BBB Editor
How do you build trust in your business, especially with consumers who don’t know you?
For more and more BBB Accredited Businesses, a growing part of building trust is BBB Customer Reviews.
“I think it’s extremely important, especially in this day and age,” said Kurtis Miller, co-owner of Wall 2 Wall Cleaning Service in O’Fallon, Mo. “Most people are going to the Internet to find you. If they don’t know anything about your company, they’ll look for reviews.”
Pat Ryan, a former resident of O’Fallon, Mo., said that BBB Customer Reviews validated the recommendation he got for Crack Attack Foundation Repair from his real estate agent. He had only a few days to fix a crack in his foundation to avoid losing a contract on his house, and other companies couldn’t even give him an estimate on a timely basis.
“I was happy to see” that Crack Attack had so many positive reviews, Ryan said. “[Owner Rob Theisen] does care about his customers.”
Seventy-five to 90 percent of consumers read reviews before consulting a business, according to research by marketing consultants InvesPro and BrightLocal. InvesPro’s research showed that 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. BrightLocal’s 2015 survey showed that two-thirds of U.S. Internet users trust businesses more if they have positive online reviews.
BBB began accepting customer reviews more than two years ago as a way to let consumers give feedback on businesses they patronized. Since then, BBB has received 10,600 customer reviews of more than 2,200 businesses in eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois. Of those, 7,900 were verified, and 6,400 have been published on companies’ BBB Business Reviews. Nearly three quarters of the reviews are positive.
Rob Theisen, owner of Crack Attack Foundation Repair, said reviews help pre-qualify him to a customer.
“I had one woman who said she read my reviews and decided, ‘This is the one I want to do business with,’” said Theisen. “When people read my reviews, I get 95 to 96 percent of them as customers.”
Theisen said he’s been getting a lot of positive reviews recently, and that feels good.
“It helps me realize that what I’m doing is worthwhile,” Theisen said.
Nick Ferguson, operations manager for Metro Lawn Sprinkler, said getting satisfied customers to post positive reviews can help a company boost its reputation. The company has been seeking out reviews on other sites and more recently began asking customers to write reviews on BBB.
“When people do Google searches, it does help your status, the more reviews you’ve got out there,” Ferguson said. “If you’ve got that much good credibility on the Internet, they’re more likely to call you.”
Paul Abrams, president of Edwin Claude Inc., an insurance adjustment firm in Town & Country, said he doesn’t solicit reviews, but he often points prospective customers to BBB’s site to see his rating and the 17 positive reviews of his company.
“It can help people understand the value of my service,” Abrams said.
Paul Birner, owner of Renewal by Andersen in St. Louis, said reviews have “really worked well for us,” especially since the firm began soliciting reviews from satisfied customers. His staff also has received comments from customers who say they’ve called because they read the positive reviews on BBB’s website.
“It absolutely has helped our business grow, no question,” Birner said.
Scott Comia, owner of Comia Home Builders & Roofers in O’Fallon, Mo., said he had been asking BBB to include customer reviews as a service almost from the time he became an Accredited Business in November 2008.
“Whenever I talked to BBB, I asked, ‘Why don’t you do a positive experience tab’” on BBB Business Reviews, he said. “When it finally popped up, I was ecstatic about it,” Comia said.
Comia said he’s created an email template for requesting reviews from customers. He adds a line or two to each request relating to the customer’s project and includes a link to BBB’s customer review page.
“I usually get a pretty large response,” Comia said. “I make it a point to respond to every review I receive, which I think is crucial. It shows that you are reading it and it means something. And it shows potential customers that you are connecting with your customers.”
Wall 2 Wall’s Miller said the company asks customers to submit reviews as part of a survey sent after the firm provides cleaning services. A link to the submission page for BBB Customer Reviews is on the survey, along with links to some other review sites.
StorageMart, based in Columbia, Mo., doesn’t solicit BBB customer reviews, said Sarah Light, marketing director for the storage rental firm. But the company looks at every review it receives as an opportunity to improve its service as well as to affirm when StorageMart employees have provided exemplary service.
Adam Rahmanovich, president and CEO of Indoor Comfort Team, says customer reviews dovetail with the company’s “verification of happiness” policy. Each employees is expected to make sure that each customer is happy.
“We do that verbally,” Rahmanovich said. “If the customer is happy, we suggest that they share it with other customers. We have to educate them that BBB is not just a place to complain.”
Rahmanovich says the company has thousands of online reviews on many sites, and often it hears from homeowners that they called the company because of its reviews. And 90 percent of the time, customers have checked the company out at BBB, where Indoor Comfort Team has 26 reviews.
BBB customer reviews are “definitely credible,” Rahmanovich said. “We know those reviews are real because we can find those names in our database of customers.” With some other review sites, “a person can have a screen name and you really don’t know what that is. You can’t respond to it.
“I’m actually very, very happy that BBB has started doing customer reviews,” Rahmanovich said.
This article first appeared in the spring issue of Torchlight magazine, a publication for BBB Accredited Businesses and Accredited Charities.