Last year I had a conversation with the owner of a large plumbing business about online reviews and the ways they helped his business. Apart from the usual generation of more enquiries through online searches where the reviews and five stars were visible, he told me a pleasing factor for him was the massive decrease in follow ups for work not completed satisfactorily in the first instance. More than that, he had access to research about his business that he would normally have to pay large amounts of money for.

Even though the company was a large enterprise, with decades of trading experience in all the major cities in New Zealand, he was surprised by the ways that reviews had increased their bottom line by making all plumbers accountable every time they went out on a job. He hadn’t considered that as a flow-on benefit from signing on and committing to online reviews as an integral part of his nationwide business.

“From plumbers, accounts, reception to management, everyone was aware that transparency of performance was a key element in how the business would operate.”

He told me that every employee who dealt with the public, in whatever capacity, was told that their performance would be a part of a process, whereby the company would be reviewed by a customer. From plumbers, accounts, reception to management, everyone was aware that transparency of performance was a key element in how the business would operate.

The results were staggering, he told me. For years there would be a number of follow ups to correct work that had not been done in the proscribed manner. Despite all the practices the business put in place, those numbers were solid and dependable, they never shifted. It wasn’t generally for significant errors, often just small, consistent ones and the company had factored them in to its bottom line. Traditional remedies such as extra training, seminars, and performance reviews, had made little difference.

“They went the extra mile to ensure an optimal customer experience and worked diligently and thoughtfully to complete work to a high level.”

Reviews changed all that. They didn’t completely eradicate them, but they did result in a massive decrease. Workers also took huge satisfaction in the reviews that they were personally a part of. They went the extra mile to ensure an optimal customer experience and worked diligently and thoughtfully to complete work to a high level.

“A business owner may not be aware that they sow the seeds of dissatisfaction and drive potentially repeat customers elsewhere . . . ”

I have seen hundreds of consumer reviews where the work is fine but the problem lies elsewhere for the customer. All too often, those concerns are a shared experience for other customers – they paint a picture that can’t be ignored. There may someone who is the initial point of contact for customers, for example. They organise bookings, give advice, and then schedule visits to quote or commence work. Their attitude is confrontational, surly – generally unhelpful. A business owner may not be aware that they sow the seeds of dissatisfaction and drive potentially repeat customers elsewhere – and turn them from advocates for the business to active harbingers of an unpleasant interaction and experience.

In that way, reviews give vital feedback about issues within the business that few may be aware of. They then result in remedial action that can be taken – corrective guidance that ensures that employees understand just how critical customer care and satisfaction is. In this way they are incredibly valuable barometers of staff performance – across the board – and oftentimes a far more vital measure than a performance review by management staff within the company itself.

Overall, there is another facet to all of this that can’t be underestimated. Staff members within a company who are working toward a common goal, with the customers in mind, create a working environment and a business that is filled with a positivity of purpose and direction.