Let’s face it; the Internet is flooded with reviews and opinions of every business, product and service you can think of. Most customers read about your company online before they even consider picking up the phone. In the digital age, local businesses need a remarkable online reputation to expand their customer base.
In the tree service industry, your closest competitor is likely around the corner. Does your online reputation paint a masterpiece or a knock off?
Whether you love what customers are saying about you online or not, it is vital to manage your digital reputation. Infiltrating reviews on third party sites may seem impossible, but there are other ways to showcase your competitive advantage to generate leads.
Keep reading to learn why testimonials are critical for local tree service companies, and learn how to strategically collect, construct and publish your own stellar testimonials!
Why You Need Testimonials
Trust is the currency of the Internet, and customers are constantly seeking validation and evidence of your credibility. Hearing how “trustworthy and awesome” your business is will sound more reassuring coming from a client than it will from you.
Of course we believe our own company is the best, but does everyone else agree? This is why displaying stellar testimonials is so valuable, especially for local industries like tree service. Customers place more trust in online reviews than in information on company websites, blogs, social media pages and advertisements.
From BBB accreditation to Angie’s list awards, establishing and communicating integrity speaks volumes. While you cannot control what consumers post online, you can give them an outlet to share positive experiences on your own website!
Testimonials allow you to collect true stories and experiences from delighted customers, construct them to highlight company attributes and share them to establish trust with new leads!
Generating Testimonial Leads
The entire premise of testimonials is promoting your company through client experiences. To get good reviews, you need to deliver good service. If you want GREAT reviews, then you know what you have to do. Point blank, unsatisfied customers are not going to write a positive review.
Testimonials are different than the reviews you find on Google+, Yelp or other similar review outlets. Companies use testimonials to share real customer interactions with new potential customers. And unlike reviews, you typically won’t stumble across a negative testimonial. Long story short: they make conversion rates on your website sing!
Check out one testimonial we are using on our PPC landing page: http://www.absolutetreeserviceinc.com/tree-removals-northern-virginia. (By the way, split testing testimonials can have giant results.)
That being said, NEVER WRITE A FAKE TESTIMONIAL! It’s misleading, makes customers skeptical and honestly isn’t respectable. Don’t compromise your integrity in an attempt to obtain consumer trust.
Finding the Right Customers
To create highly effective testimonials, target clients that you know were delighted with your performance.
There are different tactics for finding these customers, but the best ones might even approach you first.
Social Media & Review Sites: We all tend to have a love-hate relationship with review sites. Social media allows us to be found and stay in contact with customers, but it opens a window for unhappy customers to spread bad juju. Fixate on the positive comments and determine how to contact those individuals for more information.
Post-Service Email Campaigns: One of the easiest ways to habitually collect reviews is through an email campaign. Set up an email that is automatically sent to customers after service asking for their feedback. Automation makes this a mindless treasure, and it provides a convenient channel for communication. If you’re not currently using email automation services, check out a free version like MailChimp to get started.
Company Website Link: Encourage customers to leave a review of your service directly from your website. Add a link to the navigation bar titled as simply as “Review Us!” After performing service, tell customers where to find the link and encourage them to write in (Pro tip: Include the link on invoices or other follow up documentation). Be warned this may attract any disgruntled customers, but this also opens the opportunity to correct any issues.
Customers with enthusiastic reviews are the people you want to target for a testimonial. Source their contact information, which should be in your CRM system seeing as they received service.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to take reviews from other sources and just post them on your website. Use reviews as a resource for recruiting brand ambassadors willing to testify for your business!
How to Ask for a Testimonial
Yes, there is a science to procuring an influential, effective testimonial. Please don’t drain your excellent leads by simply emailing to ask how you did, and then leaving the burden on the customer. This will not work.
All of your annual business doesn’t take place on the same day, so there is no reason to force a mass request of testimonials. As likely prospects appear on the radar, contact them! If you know of a particular satisfied client, ask if they would be willing to share their experience.
Begin with thanking them for their business, and show gratitude for any positive public comments and reviews they’ve posted. Approach with the attitude that you want to share the customer’s story.
Be as clear and concise as possible. Ask very succinct questions; provide the customer with specific guidelines; and be timely with your own responses.
Asking the Right Questions
Think of the process as data mining; customers have infinite information about their experience with your service, but you want to extract the facts worth sharing. By asking the right questions, responses stay focused on the information you crave.
To get the full story, ask questions pertaining to three main points in time for the customer:
Prior to Service: What service were you looking for? What hesitations or concerns were there? And what ultimately provoked you to call?
During Service: What did you find about the service? What was the greatest benefit of service? What other specific features did you enjoy?
Post Service: How satisfied were you with our service? Would you recommend our service and why?
Anything Else: Obviously this isn’t a point in time, but you always want to give the customer the opportunity to share any additional information. After answering the previous questions, they may have recalled an exceptional memory. That is the gold we’re digging for!
Why ask these specific questions? Chances are potential customers will relate to the services and hesitations in the testimonial. But this is an opportunity to prove how your performance overcame and squashed those concerns! How? Well that’s exactly what these questions help us answer!
Be sure to confirm your customer is comfortable with sharing their full name and location. Including this minimal personal information reinforces the credibility of the quote. Using a photo with the testimonial makes it drastically more believable.
We Received Great Responses, Now What?
Immediately after receiving a response, thank the customer for their time and kind words. Remember, this individual is delivering priceless value.
After reading responses, consider how to create a story or snippet that translates trust and satisfaction. You can edit the testimonial to flow and correct grammar or language flaws, but don’t disrupt the natural vibe.
Construct a draft of the actual testimonial you would use and send it back to the customer for approval. Include their full name and location to ensure accuracy.
If you get a green light, send thanks again and store this precious artifact in a safe place. Did the customer request some revisions? Accommodate accordingly and with a smile!
Using Your Newfound Testimonial Gold
After using your resources, energy and charisma to procure amazing testimonials from customers, use them wisely to distribute the value.
As you may have noticed, companies habitually collect amazing endorsements and just paste them on a testimonial page of the website. Here’s the problem:
Majority of visitors don’t click on this page
Visitors expect to find positive reviews there
It doesn’t target the “questionable” lead
What do we mean by “questionable” lead? This is the customer on the fence about requesting service, waiting for a sign that your company is trustworthy and reliable. Align the topic of testimonials with the content on your website, increasing your odds of conversion.
For example, take a testimonial that raves about how effectively your team assessed and treated a tree infestation and how quickly the problem was resolved. Place this on the “Tree Pest Control” page. A potential customer will read that and recognize that your team can correctly identify an infestation and quickly fix the damage. Trust? Check. Credibility? Check. Phone Call? We sure hope so!
About the Author
Ashley Davis is a the owner of TCIA member company Absolute Tree, Inc. a full service tree care company that services residential and commercial customers in Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland. For more information about Davis and Absolute Tree, Inc. visit www.absolutetreeserviceinc.com or call (703) 969-6207.