How Many Stars do you Have?

Over the last few years I find myself purchasing more items online. Amazon knows me well and with two-day free shipping, I hardly go to the store anymore to pick up something other than groceries or a card for my wife’s birthday (which is usually the next day). Before I make my choice online I usually look at the star rating and what the reviews say about the various items I am looking to purchase. I typically go to the bad reviews first to see why people were unsatisfied. On occasion, I regret spending too much time on researching a $10 item, however when it is a major purchase or decision, I feel it is time well spent.

I have to believe that many homeowners like myself use the same method when choosing a home energy supplier or home services company. Before we meet with a new client for a valuation or potential sale of their business, I immediately go to their website. I want to learn about their company and be prepared with questions about their business. As part of my research I look at the various star ratings from some of the more popular sites such as Yelp, Facebook or Google Reviews. If I see a poor rating, I usually discuss it with my client. I am surprised at how many owners are not aware of their various ratings and reviews.

Here are some surprising statistics from a study done by BrightLocal:
– 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
– 90% of people will read as many as 10 reviews before making a decision.
– 58% of people say the overall star rating is the most important part of their research

In addition, MOZ (the gold standard of measurement of web presence) says that the more negative reviews a company has, the more it risks losing potential customers.

Having attended several business programs at various industry events, I learned that there are some specific action plans an owner can take to help improve their star rating and address customer dissatisfaction. I am no expert on how to improve your perception on the internet, so I asked an expert.

Ben Gutkin, V.P., Marketing Services for Warm Thoughts Communications had these helpful steps for marketers:

1. Avoid getting bad reviews in the first place
2. Generate positive reviews
3. Respond to negative reviews

Avoiding bad reviews is really about Customer Service in the Age of Social Media. It used to be that if a customer had an unpleasant experience they might tell a few friends or family members. And while it was not something a company would aspire to, it was fairly contained. Today, with just a few keystrokes, a disgruntled customer (justifiably or not) can blast their horrible experience out to the world. Training your team to diffuse anger and make unhappy customers feel better about your company is now more important than ever.

Generating positive reviews is an objective that is achievable with the right strategy and participation from everyone in your company who comes in contact with a customer or prospect. There is no reason a fuel business should not be able to amass a couple hundred four and five star reviews. While only one in four people typically writes an online review, seven in ten will do so if asked!

Every business will get the occasional bad review. People expect to see them and your reviews would look fake if you never had any. But responding to them the right way is key. 60% of people say they will change their minds about a company based on how they respond to online complaints.

Think of your response as an opportunity to show the world how much you care about your customers. The key to a positive response is to “hear” your customer, show them you truly care, and offer to make it right. Even when the customer is clearly in the wrong, you want to publicly treat them like they are right. Never “win” and argument on social media where the world is watching.

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We were very pleased to have such a knowledgeable and experienced company in our corner with the team at Cetane. It was obvious that they knew the best process and how to get the ball over the goal line. Their advice throughout the process was greatly appreciated and we thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

— Steve Lombardi, Brodeur’s Oil, Moosup, CT