As anyone in the solar business will attest, a one-star review is the industry’s equivalent of a 911 call to a dispatcher — it’s a cry for help that requires an immediate, urgent response. Countless installers have told us how they have turned their days upside down in order to quickly address a one-star review.
One of our customers even told us the story of how a one-star review escalated all the way to the owner of the solar business, causing a huge ruckus. This owner then canceled his day of meetings and rearranged his schedule around the upset homeowner. In the end, the hassle was worth it. After the owner addressed the customer’s complaint (the install crew had damaged some prized roses during installation, which he acknowledged and offered to replace), the homeowner became a huge champion of the company, sending them referrals consistently over the years.
If the owner hadn’t effectively stepped in, the results could have been very different indeed. In fact, as we mentioned in our previous post on reviews, a study from the Harvard Business Review found that a one-star decrease on Yelp leads to a 9% reduction in businesses’ revenue.
Taking this statistic, we’ve created a spreadsheet that allows you to compute how exactly a one-star review impacts your business. Based on your forecasted revenue, you can change your review rating to see, in exact numbers, just how much bad reviews are costing your business. Imagine if your business had 70 google reviews to date, had a review average of 4.8, and is also projecting $10M in revenue for the year. Well, then a single one-star review would bring your rating down to 4.75. While that may not seem like a lot, that single review cost the business roughly $48K. Additionally, think of how this cost can compound if your business doesn’t know how to effectively manage future one-star reviews.
Below, we provide four tips taken from savvy solar installers to turn a one-star review from an emergency into an opportunity.
Tip #1: Respond quickly to demonstrate your company values to the customer
In a study conducted by the software provider Khoros, the company found that 83% of surveyed customers agreed that they felt more loyal to brands that resolved and responded to their complaints. Another study from Qualtrics reported that 80% of customers will forgive a bad experience if they rate the service team as “very good.”
What this shows is that just because a solar business receives a bad review, it doesn’t mean they can’t make a bad review better. In fact, as the Khoros statistic illustrates, installers have the power to change bad reviews to great reviews. The key is to make negative reviewers feel like you’ve truly heard their complaint — and that you’re going to take actionable steps to fix it – and to do it quickly!
A response to a negative review that is empathetic and personalized can convince reviewers to edit their star rating. Worst case scenario, even if you’re unable to change their mind, a professional response on the review site is a way to also market yourself to future customers.
Tip #2: Use the customer feedback to identify gaps in your operational workflows
Bad solar reviews can be even more illuminating than positive customer reviews. They can lead to process improvements that ultimately allow you to increase your bottom line.
After you receive a negative review, start by going back to the history of sales and project manager touch-points. You may be able to uncover some valuable patterns. For example:
- Is your sales team going too long between customer check-ins?
- Is the project manager on the account overwhelmed, and therefore the customer check-ins feel transactional?
- Or did someone simply set an expectation for communication frequency that then proved to be untenable?
Fortunately, if you had to answer yes to one of these questions, there is a solution. One of the ways that Bodhi helps installers increase communication with their customers is by automating the check-in process. This allows installers to be hyper-communicative without increasing their team size or load on project managers.
Even if you’re not a Bodhi customer, it’s possible to implement some level of automation to your customer communication strategy. For example, create templatized customer referral reminders that your PMs can send out at the touch of a button or when a certain trigger condition is met. By automating this process, you can ensure that you take advantage of the project milestones that leave homeowners especially excited about the solar journey and ready to promote your business.
Tip #3: Use the bad reviews to create a more engaged and empowered team
Just as bad reviews can help you develop better processes to guide your customer relationships, they can also serve as a catalyst to have meaningful conversations with your teams.
Being a solar project manager or sales representative can be a stressful job, and bad customer reviews are especially demoralizing. Often, your team will be left wondering how to remove a negative review, lest they get in trouble. In the worst case scenario, these reviews can cause team members to question their career trajectory and impact employee turnover.
However, bad reviews don’t need to spiral in this way. In fact, they can be leveraged to make employees even more loyal to the business, as well as confident in their job.
Use this as an opportunity to walk your sales team through the one-star calculator, bringing them deeper into the business. Then brainstorm ways together to address the issue — presenting them with solutions like a customer experience automation platform or more flex time in the office to get out to homeowners.
By taking the time to hear how a review might have impacted your employee, as well as collaborating with them to develop a solution, you make them feel both included and supported. And, as a result, you make them feel even more motivated to generate the next batch of positive reviews.
Tip #4: Create a shared toolkit your team can rely on
Counterintuitive as it may sound, bad reviews can also improve team operations at a much higher level. Just as a bad review can expose gaps in your customer communication strategy, it can also help you identify what’s missing from your team’s shared toolkit.
Find out what resources your team members turn towards when faced with an unhappy customer. Then ask yourself these questions:
- Are these resources that managers or VPs have developed or purchased, or are these tools that your employees have independently cobbled together?
- If the latter, are these resources a good reflection of the business’ values and voice?
- If the former, are there any updates that need to be made to the resource based on the current customer complaint?
One tool that we’ve seen universal success with when adopted by installers are proactive customer surveys. How these are timed and what they specifically look like differs slightly business-to-business. (Bodhi automates these surveys and embeds them into the customer’s other project updates!) Regardless of the specifics of the form, these surveys always benefit installers because they allow them to get honest feedback from the customer privately. It also gives your customer an alternative to airing their grievances over Google, and it gives installers the benefit of addressing customer complaints early so that by project’s end, they’ve earned a five-star review.
By treating each bad review as a chance to re-evaluate the company’s overarching toolkit, you can ensure you’re building a customer-first company culture.
Moving forward after a bad review
While we’d rather live in a world where installers only got positive reviews from customers, we know that bad reviews happen even to great companies. That’s why it’s so important to look for these opportunities to level up your operations whenever you do receive a bad review.
At the end of the day, even a bad review is a customer trying to communicate with you about your business, and you can channel that kind of engagement into something amazing.
If you’d like to learn more about how to deliver an amazing customer experience to each and every customer (the happy and the unhappy ones), we’d love to talk.