Client reviews are invaluable, no question. Good or bad, they can help you evaluate and improve your construction company’s processes, beef up your website portfolio and polish your online image.
We’ve found though that reviews, testimonials, surveys, whatever you call them, don’t just land in your inbox on their own. It’s the darndest thing. Apparently humans aren’t naturally equipped with the ability to read minds… So, if you want your clients to leave you a review or give a testimonial for your services, you’ve got to ask them for it.
We’ve found it’s easier to determine what to ask for if you first decide:
- Why you need or want reviews, or in other words, what you’ll use them for (i.e. showing off your impressive skills by featuring testimonials on your website or construction portfolio or using feedback to help streamline your processes).
- What type of reviews will fulfill that need or want.
- How you’ll gather the reviews from your clients.
What type of review should I get?
Once you’ve established why you want or need client reviews, you can then consider what type of review you might want to gather:
Testimonials are good for highlighting the competitive advantages you have in the construction industry. Or boosting rapport with website visitors showing them you have other satisfied customers.
- Online Reviews
Online reviews, specifically from Google and Facebook, are useful in showcasing your abilities because reviews from both platforms appear with your Google My Business listing when people go to search for you or your services online. A large quantity of positive reviews can also help your ranking in Google search results.
- Feedback via a Completed Survey
Offering surveys to clients can provide valuable insights to help you evaluate the quality of your construction services and improve your processes. They can also yield testimonials for marketing materials if done correctly.
How should I gather my reviews?
Depending on your decisions from above, there are a number of ways you can go about collecting the reviews you need. Regardless of how you gather them just remember you’ll get 0% of the reviews you don’t ask for!
So again, the first rule is to ASK.
The best way we’ve found to get quality testimonials from clients is to present them with a questionnaire to help guide their responses in a direction that works with your goals.
Here are a few tips to get you started on writing questions and compiling client testimonials:
- Avoid asking Yes/No questions.
Testimonials aren’t structured like Question/Answer interviews, they’re stand-alone descriptions about what you’ve done to help your clients. You’ll get much better testimonials if you prepare questions that provoke descriptive responses and can be turned into full-sentence answers.
- Write questions reflecting what you want out of the testimonial.
Ask your clients questions to get them talking about what you want to convey with your testimonials. If you’re trying to convey your construction company’s competitive advantages, ask questions about what those are. For example, if Jimmy John’s advertises “Freaky Fast Delivery,” their questionnaire might ask, “How freaky fast was our delivery?”
- Provide these questions to your client while your work is still fresh in their mind.
This goes back to basic psychology. Thoughts, ideas, and experiences easily slip from the mind with distraction or passage of time. Don’t let that happen with your clients. Pose your questions immediately after you’ve completed their project to increase the likelihood of receiving a positive, in-depth review of your work.
- Let your clients know you may be editing their responses and will seek their approval before using them.
We’re not saying to change all their words and make up a testimonial. That’s not even right on a number of levels. It’s okay, though, to correct grammar mistakes and pull content from different answers together to make a more effective testimonial. Not everyone has the ability to write award-winning content. If you’ve formulated your questions carefully, you won’t have to worry too much about that. Make sure the tone is accurate and the message is consistent with their original words. Be sure to let your clients know you plan to do this and get their permission before using it in your marketing.
- Make it short and concise.
There’s a time and a place for a lengthy review, say maybe for sugar-free gummy bears…With an average attention span of only 8 seconds, a majority of your visitors will skim right past testimonials on your site if they’re longer than a small paragraph, so keep that in mind while forming testimonials from your clients’ responses.
Feedback via Surveys
As I said previously, to gain some insights about your construction services or improve your processes, you can ask your clients to fill out a survey about their experience working with you.
If you go this route, you can format your survey in one of three ways:
- Just use plain ol’ pen & paper.
Take it back to the basics. If boosting your online image isn’t your end game, or you just don’t want to fuss with technology, go old school and mail surveys after completing projects or keep printed surveys on hand for clients to fill out while they’re in your office.
- Offer it online via a survey service platform.
Online services like Survey Monkey let you create your own surveys and extract valuable insights and data from the results. Some platforms offer estimated survey completion times, others support Captcha fields to help thwart spam. A majority have at least some basic tools and themes and even branding customization to help make your survey more attractive.
- Incorporate an email form into your website.
WordPress plugins like Formidable will let you create your own survey forms and easily add them to your website. We use Formidable to custom build all of our forms, including our online quote generator, and we absolutely love it. It plays nicely with MailChimp and allows us to segment our email marketing efforts based on certain form responses. Winning.
Since 81% of people turn to the Internet to conduct research before making a buying decision, it’s no wonder you want your happy clients sharing their great experiences with you online. Google and Facebook online reviews appear with your Google My Business listing, so you might consider focusing your efforts there first to maximize exposure.
If this is your sole method for gathering reviews, be aware of two barriers of entry you could run into:
- Your clients may not be online when you ask them for a review so they’ll have to remember to do it later which lowers your chances of completion.
- It takes more effort to get the less tech-savvy clients to the right place online.
Here in a second, we’ll explore ways to get around these barriers. Keep calm and read on…
How to Overcome the Challenges of Gathering Reviews Online
Our only caveat to which approach you take is this: gathering reviews online can often present the two barriers of entry, which I outlined above.
To get around these Internet access/use challenges, you can either:
- Keep an iPad in your office.
This way, your customers can leave a review, answer testimonial questions or fill out a survey right then and there. This not only allows you to get immediate feedback and data, it’s also ensures you can help those clients who struggle with technology complete it successfully.
- Print out a flyer with online instructions.
Draft up a clear, easy-to-follow set of instructions on how to leave a review or complete your survey online. Then send a printout of the instructions with your client once your work is completed. And of course, don’t forget to leave your contact information in case they have questions or issues.
- Send a final follow-up email with a link.
Ask clients to leave a review on Google and/or Facebook or send them to your online survey by placing a link in your final follow up email. This method is trackable in most cases (depending on the email marketing service you use) and it’s also a fairly universal form of communication these days so most clients should be capable of handling it. Plus, the link won’t get lost (hopefully), just be sure to tell clients to keep an eye out for the email and to check their Spam folders if they don’t see it when they should.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
If your clients are cool and you did a bang up job for them, there’s no harm in asking for feedback or a review. Otherwise, how will you know how well you did…or didn’t?
Remember earlier when I said we’re not all Pulitzer Prize-winning writers? Yeah, we’re not all expert communicators either. In fact, some people are downright terrified of just talking to anyone they don’t know well, let alone asking something of them.
Writing a simple script for your staff can help guide your more introverted team members through the process of gathering reviews from clients. Outline a conversation imploring clients to be honest and letting them know how you plan to use their answers.
Ask, don’t axe.
So, what’s the first rule of getting reviews for your construction company?
ASK FOR THEM.
Seems a little scary, I know, but don’t axe your whole plan because of a little fear. You can ask with confidence using the simple tips given above.
You snooze, you lose.
It’s essential to find a way to talk to your clients about your work so you can not only gain valuable insights but also showcase your amazing skills. You can alleviate some of the pressure on you and on your clients by weaving the gathering of the reviews into your overall project completion process.
And don’t forget, your clients are in no way obligated to help you out, so give them thanks for their contributions. It’s not only common courtesy, it goes a long way for your client referrals and client retention, too.