Customer review websites, such as Yelp, can really make or break a small business. One scathing review can completely damage a company’s reputation, especially if that review shows up in the early days of the company. On the other hand, a string of positive reviews can give a new small business a much-needed boost in the marketplace.
So many small businesses have limited marketing budgets, and rely a great deal on word-of-mouth advertising—especially on online review sites, where the opinions of past customers have a great amount of influence on potential customers. As such, some small businesses use tactics such as offering rebates or other incentives to customers who leave positive reviews. Critics call this tactic bribery, while others just see it as a new type of marketing expenditure.
BM Windows, a replacement window company in San Diego, takes a different approach. Instead of incentivizing customers to leave positive reviews, they simply offer amazing customer service, great prices, and quality products. Not surprisingly, their reviews on Yelp are overwhelmingly positive. Customers love the company’s no-pressure approach to sales, their honest and straightforward pricing, their well-made products, and their highly trained installers. The company is now one of the most highly reviewed and highly rated replacement window companies in San Diego, according to Yelp, and considering the competitiveness of the San Diego market, that is saying a lot!
On the rare occasion that BM Windows gets a negative review on Yelp, someone from the company tactfully addresses it. They apologize for any misunderstandings, gently correct any misinformation from the review, and wish the reviewer well. BM Windows owner Michal Bohm explains,
I believe that the way in which we respond to criticism is just as powerful as the many, many positive reviews we receive. It communicates that we listen to people, and that we are interested in making things right whenever possible. We really do take any negative reviews to heart and use them to make our business better for future customers.”
As far as their positive reviews are concerned, BM Windows takes every opportunity to highlight them, knowing how powerful they can be in influencing potential customers. When they receive an exceptionally positive or detailed review, they use the review in their marketing.
One way they do this is by placing it in a prominent place on their website. That way, the review reinforces what the company says about itself. Bohm explains, “It’s one thing for us to tell people, ‘Our company offers great customer service and doesn’t use high-pressure sales tactics.’ It’s another thing when one of our past customers says it.”
Another thing they do with great reviews is highlight them in the BM Windows blog. Bohm says,
We’ll often take a review and break it down for our readers in a blog post. For example, a Yelp reviewer will say something like, ‘The BM Windows installation team is the best!’ We’ll then go on in the blog post to tell the reader why our teams our so great—how they have received factory training and have a ton of experience specifically in window installation. Or, a customer will comment on the quality of our products, and we’ll use it as an opportunity to explain why we sell the products we do, and why we don’t sell some of the other brands of windows on the market, even though they may be some of the more ‘popular’ brands.”
Finally, the company mentions their positive reviews on social media—specifically on their Facebook page. They know that not every potential customer visits sites like Yelp, so they want to make sure their reviews are seen by people on other platforms as well.
It’s all about getting the most out of every positive review (and minimizing the effects of the negative ones) in order to grow a small business. But Bohm is quick to point out that the key is to provide customers with amazing products and services in the beginning. Otherwise, a company will find themselves in the unfortunate position of not having many positive reviews to work with. “Start with treating people right, doing what you say you will do, and completing every job to your customers’ satisfaction. When you do that, the positive reviews will follow,” says Bohm.