Ever wonder what users are saying about you online? The fact is that ratings and reviews matter to home buyers. BDX recently held a webinar that covered the many challenges builders face managing their reputation online and the solution that changes it all.
Why Ratings & Reviews
Today’s customers demand reviews. 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and 90 percent of consumers look at product reviews before visiting a business. Just like advertising is targeted at driving brand awareness and getting buyers to consider your homes, reviews are targeted at building trust and helping the buyers get comfortable before they even start to engage your brand.
One way to authenticate your brand and create a positive customer experience is through user-generated content (UGC) — content that has been created and put out there by unpaid contributors. UGC represents constantly updated, authentic, relevant, keyword-rich content that drives search rankings higher—just 8 reviews can significantly boost SEO. Studies show that regardless of industry or average rating, online reviews lift sales (Source: Bazaarvoice). In fact, reviews increased conversion rates by up to 17 percent simply because users saw star ratings in Google search results.
What You Should Know
Ratings and reviews come in two forms: solicited and unsolicited. Solicited reviews are much better in tone than unsolicited reviews and typical unsolicited online ratings today average around 1.7 (out of 5). Even solicited ratings are not quite as high as those collected in Customer Satisfaction Survey programs as buyers are often pressured to provide high scores, results are often collected by phone or in person, and results are often collected immediately after purchase, before many frustrations come into play. True builder ratings have a relatively narrow variance—2.7 to 4.6.
Many builders believe customer reviews need to be in the 4-star range to be positive, but multiple studies have shown that rating in the ranges of 3.0 to 4.7 is the range with a positive impact on sales, with the best impact for scores between 4.2 and 4.7. Customers are likely to avoid builders that have ratings below 2.0 and don’t trust ratings that are too high.
Current Builder Ratings & Reviews
So what review sites should you trust? Most reviews today are posted on:
- General-purpose sites like Yelp, Google and ConsumerAffairs (NOT viewed as expert sites)
- Small programs (NOT large or inclusive enough to be viewed as authorities)
- Complaint sites like PissedConsumer (almost always 100% negative)
- Or individual builder sites (difficult to compare builders and users typically suspect reviews are biased)
Few reviews actually get posted and the ones that are posted come from unhappy customers looking to vent. Some review sites are actually pay-to-play which degrades trust and devalues the positive reviews. The result? It’s hard for shoppers to find data they’re looking for because the data they find on a builder has a poor tone and doesn’t seem particularly trustworthy, which creates a significant impediment to sales.
Dealing With Negative Reviews
Every builder will have some negative reviews—it’s inevitable. However, if builders respond appropriately to those reviews, they can control the narrative and turn that negative into a positive. Studies show that a negative review with an appropriate response can increase intent to purchase more than a five-star review! BDX has worked with Bazaarvoice to develop a best practices guide for responding to reviews:
- Respond within 5 business days
- Don’t post “thank you” responses to 5-star reviews
- Don’t provide one-word answers
- Remember your audience-review readers
- Don’t direct to other sites
- Don’t post responses that sound like marketing
- Keep cool
- Be personal; don’t post canned responses
Seeing a response made to a review made 22 percent of consumers think the brand really cares about consumer, made 35 percent of consumers think the brand has great customer service, and made 41 percent of consumers think the brand is trustworthy.
If you’re feeling discouraged about finding a reputable review site, don’t! A trusted authority and industry standard has been developed—meet TrustBuilder, a review site powered by NewHomeSource.com that delivers honest reviews from real homeowners about the home buying experience. TrustBuilder is comprised of verified home buyers sharing their honest opinions—reviews are never edited or groomed. Builders also have the opportunity to manage their reputation by responding to reviews.
So how does TrustBuilder work? It’s a simple six-step process:
- Builder shares data about home sales to BDX
- Emails are sent to home buyers
- Home buyer submits review
- Review is checked for inappropriate content
- Builder is notified of new reviews and BDX receives data for publication
- Reviews are published on NewHomeSource.com
BDX partners with Bazaarvoice, the market leader in product reviews to run this program. Security best practices and strong encryption are utilized at all times. Care has been taken to brand the email as coming from Trustbuilder and to differentiate the review request from customer satisfaction surveys.
Best of all, builders who list their homes with BDX can participate in the program for free.
To learn more about TrustBuilder and how to participate, email the BDX specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org.