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SOAPBOX: Why I now love B2B review websites
by Roger Green, CEO, Spotless Commercial Cleaning
"After a few years in the commercial cleaning business I soon learnt that all cleaning companies say that they are 'excellent' at everything they do and they all promise their customers the world. Prospective customers are unsurprisingly distinctly immune and unimpressed by this hyperbole.
I realised that it almost became a differentiator to not boast or make grandiose claims, but instead to take a more modest approach and rely on testimonials and case studies from commercial cleaning customers who were genuinely satisfied with the service they were receiving.
So our Spotless mantra purposefully became to quietly under-sell and over-deliver.
But a new feedback tool is now out there that has encouraged us to make more of our strong track record of great customer service and loyal customer base... The independent B2B review website.
Review sites, especially TripAdvisor and Yelp, have revolutionised our decision-making in the hospitality and B2C market, but the world of B2B reviews is still in its relative infancy. And where this does exist, it seems to be mostly associated with trades and small businesses.
Is 'big' business worried by what they might find out? Might they be embarrassed by hearing what people really think of the service their business provides?
Customer feedback via independent review sites is gradually becoming an opportunity for large UK wide B2B businesses to really differentiate themselves from their competitors.
So, after some research, Spotless Commercial Cleaning has taken the plunge and joined Feefo, who provide trusted independent reviews.
It was a risk. We always 'think' we provide good customer service, but have we been deluding ourselves?
We measure our Quality Score in every contract. But real satisfaction in the cleaning industry is often subject to the invisible metrics of relationships and trust.
Would our customers be kind to us, or were we about to be sorely disappointed? Would anyone reply? Writing reviews can be time-consuming.
We sent out review requests to our customers and held our breath.
The initial buzz was exciting. Some 30 reviews poured in immediately, and almost all awarded us four or five stars, plus a couple of threes to make sure we didn't get too pleased with ourselves.
After a few days, we hit an average rating of 4.2, and after 90 reviews in our first month we've stayed at that rating.
I've personally replied to every review thanking the customer for their feedback, especially anything negative. We even retained one unhappy customer by addressing his concerns with a quick turnaround following his comments.
Most of our reviewers have given their names which is ideal but they can also be anonymous, perhaps encouraging more candid feedback. All comments are valuable and help us improve our service.
Our star ratings already appear on our organic search listings. The stats tell me that this alone gives a 17% rise in click through rates. Search engines love reviews.
Countless studies have shown that more reviews mean more revenue. One popular study by iPerceptions found that customers are 63% more likely to buy from websites that display customer reviews.
So, what are the drawbacks?
Last week we tendered for a £500K contract and made much of our Feefo rating as a differentiator. Then, we received a three-star review and it sat at the top of our list for two days while we waited and hoped for some better reviews to replace it.
So, we re-sent the invitation to those customers who had not responded the first time asking them to review our business, and to our relief a torrent of fresh fours and fives came in.
It's good to have some bad ratings...
However, we have learnt that having some bad ratings makes the good ratings more believable. If all ratings are good then prospects are less likely to believe them.
Companies should acknowledge mistakes, correct inaccuracies, and, if necessary, take the conversation offline. The tone should be constructive and not defensive.
How good is good enough?
For most people I've spoken to, anything over four out of five is a positive buying message. I think we'd all think twice about staying at a hotel where the rating starts with a three.
And has it changed how we think?
Yes! 4.2 out of five is the new benchmark at Spotless, and we want to do even better.
Now I look at 4.5s and over in any business sector with a touch of envy and it encourages me to try harder.
How can we better improve our customers' experience? What could we have done differently to get a higher score? What's stopping every customer being delighted with the service they receive?
Suddenly customer service matters a whole lot more.
And that's progress."
6th July 2017