The Quest for Five Stars

Newsflash: Your customers have the Internet, and they know how to use it. They don’t just use it to watch cute cat videos and go on Facebook. Today’s consumer does considerable online research on products and companies before deciding to move forward with a purchase.

For solar installers, getting great online reviews is now more important than ever. It’s time to get familiar with the world of Yelpers, Angie’s List and the quest for five stars.

onlineratingAsk and You Shall Receive
The easiest way to get online reviews is — drum roll please — to ask your customers.

Take the time to write a brief, straightforward e-mail. First, start by thanking your customers for their business and congratulating them on the decision to use clean, solar energy. You should then ask them to write a review, and be sure to provide links to your online profiles on review websites such as Yelp, Angie’s List or Solar Reviews. Finish the e-mail by explaining how much you value your customers’ feedback and thanking them one last time for their business.

Then, fire it off to your customers. You want to ask them for a review when they are at their happiest. During a solar installation, there are three potential times: 1) Right after the solar installation is complete; 2) When the solar system is turned on by the utility company; or 3) Around the time they receive their first energy bill and see their solar savings.

Sit back, relax and watch as the positive reviews roll in. Be sure to thank your customers for taking the time to review your company. Some choose to reward positive reviews with small gifts (for instance, a $5 gift card for coffee), but in most cases, a heartfelt e-mail is more than enough.

Brace Yourself for a Bad Review
It’s inevitable. After tons of online reviews full of praise and warm fuzzies, a customer will write a negative review that sheds your company in a bad light.

Resist the urge to lash out and immediately defend your company. If your reaction is extremely emotional (either really angry or incredibly sad), then take some time to cool down before you respond. Once you feel calm and collected, respond (privately if possible) in a polite and professional manner.

Thank them for their feedback and figure out how you can take care of the problem. If their complaints seem justified, admit fault and try to make your wrongs right. Once all is resolved, kindly ask the customer to remove the review. Most customers will remove their negative reviews once the perceived problem has been resolved.

However, remember you can’t win them all. There are some people who were born to complain, and no matter how nicely you ask, they just won’t take down their negative review. If this is the case, move on and focus on balancing out the bad review with five good ones.

Why It’s Worth the Work
Getting reviews is a lot of work and sometimes you have to deal with a not-so-happy customer. Why go through all the trouble? Two words — more leads.

All review websites provide your contact information so that someone can easily contact you and inquire about a solar estimate. Plus, leads from review websites are typically higher-quality leads. Think about it — customers who research your company have most likely researched solar installation and convinced themselves that it’s a worthwhile pursuit. Most importantly, they already think you are great company that does great work — all thanks to your great online reviews.

Spreading the Word
In the digital era, glowing online reviews is just like your customers talking you up to their friends and families. So, go forth! Build up your bank of positive reviews and watch as they “spread the word” about your company, eventually bringing in a flood of potential customers who are ready to go solar.

Alyssa Pacaut is marketing director at AMECO Solar, a solar installer based in Southern California. The company currently has 103 positive online reviews (and counting).

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