From my Carennedy Solutions Blog November 2013: (edited 2015)

If you are a home owner, at some point in time you are going to need to hire a contractor. The question is who to trust? HomeStars.com is a review gathering site for the home service industry in Canada and they help homeowners decide which contractor to hire.

Ever read a review?

In 2007 when I was posting reviews on epinions.com, reviews were written mostly for products. Today, according to Bright Local’s 2013 Customer Survey – 76% of consumers read reviews on any product or service, before they make their final buying decision. Click for stats

Reviews are taking over from advertising and marketing as the go to source for trustworthy information on a product or service. What does that mean for your company? It means that you are no longer the only person telling your story to the market place.

HomeStars.com enables home service companies in Canada to build a positive online reputation by collecting reviews from their customers in one place.

How do you mitigate the damage of bad reviews?

We all know that unhappy customers will tell as many people as they can. Today, thanks to the Internet, that means the world. Make sure you have a large source of ‘good’ reviews online and that you reply to those unhappy reviewers in a professional manner.

Bad reviews are a Good thing.

Bad reviews increase the credibility and authenticity of all your reviews because they prove the profile is unedited and real. Hiding bad reviews won’t help anyone’s credibility. Everyone knows that things go wrong, that there are some real nit picky people out there, and there are two sides of every story. Bad reviews give you the opportunity to respond with your Customer Service message.

If responses to reviews are written in a professional manner, outlining the options the reviewer had, then it can make the company look good. If a company responds by bullying or slamming the reviewer, it’ll only make the reviewer’s point.

What about fake reviews?

I’m sure you’ve read about fake reviews. The good news is HomeStars.com verifies reviews to ensure a transaction actually took place. If a company suspects a review as being ‘faked,’ the onus is on the home owner to prove that it isn’t. If HomeStars suspects the company of ‘faking’ their own reviews they will investigate and penalize the company.

Reviews are no longer just for products, books, and blogs. The internet has changed the way people make buying and hiring decisions. You can choose to ignore it and get left behind, or you can embrace the change and grow your business. It’s your choice.

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