A few days ago, we wrote about how niche industries like insurance can benefit from having a sound reputation management strategy – one that includes, in particular, the management of online reviews. Today, we highlight another niche sector that’s increasingly being shaped by online reviews: residential services (cleaning, electrical, HVAC, pest control, plumbling, etc.)
While it’s easy enough to measure the impact of reviews for local businesses like restaurants, car dealerships, and hotels, it’s a lot more challenging to determine exactly how reviews and ratings shape the behavior of consumers looking for residential services.
Fortunately, the research team at Software Advice set out to explore this area of study. Here are some of the key findings from the firm’s report, entitled “Use of Online Reviews to Select Residential Service Providers”:
- Higher ratings can sway purchase decisions: 86 percent of those surveyed say that they would pay more for a residential service provider with higher ratings and better online reviews.
- Reviews are valuable sources of info: A staggering 96 percent consider reviews to be “valuable” when seeking residential service providers. Of this, 68 percent declare reviews either “extremely valuable” or “very valuable.”
- Yelp rocks: Like with healthcare, Yelp is considered by majority (74 percent) as the most popular review site for residential services, ranking ahead of Google+ Local, Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau (BBB), and Thumbtack.
These numbers and the rest of Software Advice’s study indicate that, even for smaller, more specific business sectors, a critical part of one’s business strategy should cover online reputation management.
“Simply put: service companies that access this untapped opportunity can turn their online review profiles into real revenue generators,” wrote Software Advice’s Ike Jablon in an email to ReviewTrackers.
Added Justin Guinn, market research advocate for Software Advice: “Our most compelling finding for business owners is that an overwhelming majority of respondents say they would pay more for a service provider with higher rankings and better reviews, versus paying less for a provider that didn’t. (That’s why) residential services business owners are advised to claim their free business profile on Yelp and other review sites. They also need to actively monitor and communicate with their reviewers, both positive and negative.”
Software Advice’s study also details what types of information consumers are looking for when they consult online reviews. Quality of service ranks above all other types of information (87 percent), followed by pricing and cost information (78 percent).
It’s also worth noting that, among all online resources, review sites (38 percent) rank second only to search engines (56 percent) in terms of consumers’ preferred means of researching and selecting service providers. And even so, many of the local search results these search engines display are themselves for online reviews and ratings from major review sites.
“In an age where online reviews websites allow customers to share their opinions with the masses, residential service providers must do all they can to provide memorable customer experiences that encourage positive feedback,” said Guinn. “(These) findings will help these companies better understand the impact of reviews sites and how they can maximize their online presence in order to attract the business of both new and existing customers.”
Check out some of the graphs from Software Advice’s latest report:
(Infographic: Software Advice)