Online Ignorance is Not Bliss

With Google, Yelp, Angie’s List and dozens of other sites taking comments from your customers, ignoring the process can be very expensive.

The World Has Changed

It used to be that a happy customer will tell a friend and an unhappy customer will tell seven other people, friends or not. Today, we might wipe our brow and say thankfully, “Only seven!”

That is because an unhappy customer today can tell seven hundred or seven thousand people about their opinion – accurate or not – in a few dozen keystrokes. And, it might be weeks or months before you even know about it.Woman with thumbs down - negative review

Plumbers have important jobs that rarely involve computers or the Internet. Unfortunately, all of that has changed. The world was simpler. Place ads in the Yellow Pages, maybe a coupon in ValPak, support a Little League team and word would get around that “Joe” is the plumber to call when you have an emergency or an expansion. Not anymore.

Even with great advertising, over 80 percent of people who do not know you will still check you out on line before making that call. The best advertising in the world still only tells them who to check out, not necessarily whom to call.

How Do You Stand?

The easiest way to get a quick feel for what people are saying about you is to open Google and type in your company name and city. The page will fill with different websites like Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, CitySearch and others where your name will probably be listed. (If it is not, that can be both good and bad, but, that is for another article.)

Click on the sites and see where you stand. Pay particular attention to sites that ask “Is this your site?” In those cases you have not done anything proactive to provide the site with information about you. You should do so – but, hold off for a minute. You need to know more before you start typing. In the next article in this series, you will be given precise instructions about how to do this. If you are in a hurry, you can contact me (see below) and I will give you a head start.

Why Should You Bother?

The fact is you do not have to do anything. The problem is that others are. Customers are talking online – whether you register with the sites on which they are commenting or not. And, your astute competitors are encouraging reviews and responding to them. It does take a level of effort, but not doing so can be very expensive. Negative reviews – even untrue or biased – will prevent you from getting calls that will go to other plumbing companies.

Conversely, by systematically encouraging positive reviews from the vast majority of your customers who are happy, it will dramatically enhance your ranking next time you look up your company name in Google.

This article is part of a series dealing with the new relationship between service professionals and their necessary connection to the Internet and online exposure.