Before we make any purchase, we all follow a similar pattern. We compare prices to make sure that we are getting the best deal. We look at other products or services to make sure that we are getting what will work best for us. And we read reviews.
Most of these are from Google Reviews, Yelp, or the product’s website itself.
If your customer is looking to make a purchase from the home services industry, they may use other websites to read reviews about local home contractors. These include Angie’s List, Home Advisor, Porch, Nextdoor, or any other websites that exist just for reviews like this.
Regardless of how or where they find their reviews, your customers are deciding whether or not to make a purchase from your HVAC business depending on what other people have to say about you, aka word of mouth.
What is Word of Mouth Marketing?
Word of Mouth Marketing or WOMM is an unpaid type of promotion in which your customers willingly tell others about their experience with your business, service or products.
You may be wondering, "Is word of mouth marketing effective?" According to Nielsen.com, “92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising.“ So, while your typical marketing and advertising may be raking in some customers, word of mouth marketing will show the most results.
Your business can take advantage of this and use word of mouth marketing (WOMM) to motivate people to talk about your business more. The more they talk about it, the more new leads hear about your business.
How Does Word of Mouth Marketing Work?
Word of mouth is no longer strictly limited to its literal definition. Yes, verbal word of mouth interactions such as telling a friend about a great restaurant you went to last night does still exist and has a big role in word of mouth marketing, but there are other platforms as well.
Like we mentioned before, websites are a major place for customers to share and read reviews to find a contractor.
Other customers are reading Google reviews and some are even going a step further to read social media reviews. They may begin searching for a company’s Facebook or Instagram profiles and looking for any comments on service. An unhappy customer is sure to leave a negative review as a comment if they received poor service. They’ll most likely do the same if they received good service as well. How your company responds to such comments is also very important.
The best practice for negative reviews or comments is to always give a personalized, empathetic response to the customer’s complaint. Ignoring negative comments, or giving a scripted response will hurt your company’s customer service reputation.
Remember, all of the users on social media can see your comments, and will be able to see if you repeatedly use the same scripted comment.
How to Use Word-of-Mouth Marketing For An HVAC Business
Okay, you now understand that word of mouth marketing is effective, low cost, and potentially can grow your business. How do you start using it to market your business? In other words, how do you do word of mouth marketing?
Using WOMM is simple, and can be started in a few different ways. Because social media plays such a huge role in consumer choices, social media is a great place to start. Keep reading to find a few simple word of mouth marketing examples.
Share Customer Testimonials via Your Social Channels
Sharing customer testimonials and reviews is a simple way to start your word of mouth marketing. Reviews like these put a face to the name. Customers seeing these reviews know that they are coming from a real person, and will consider them more valuable.
Create a referral program
We know that customers believe the advice of friends and families over advertisements from a company. Creating a referral program can encourage your current customers to spread the word about you. Make sure your referral program is simple and convenient for current and new customers. You can offer your customers reasons to share, such as this example below.
It is also a good idea to include links. Again, the easier it is for your customers to share, the more likely they will be willing to do so.
Encourage user generated content
Happy customers will rave about their experience with your company. If you're lucky, they'll talk about it on their social media pages, or even make a post about it. When a customer does this, your business must respond.
Say for examle that your HVAC business fixes the air conditioning for a warehouse. A few hours after service, your business is tagged in a photo of some of the warehouse employees with the caption "Finally cool thanks to Joe's HVAC Business!"
This is an example of user generated content. A user has created a post that your business can now use as content. User generated content works well for businesses, as it gives customers a connection to other people. Customers don't like receiving ads and they don't trust marketers.
With user generated content, customers are trusting other customers.
You can encourage user generated content by using hashtags, offering incentives, creating contests, or asking questions. Learn more about how to encourage user generated content on social media here.
Preparing for Word-Of-Mouth Marketing
But, before you get ready to have all of your customers spread the details of their experience with your company to the world, assess that your customers are having a good experience.
For an HVAC or other type of home services business, there are a few things you can easily check or fix to ensure this. These include:
- Your customer service
- How you handle phone calls
- Your level of expertise/how well you service your customer
Though you won’t be able to drastically improve your service levels, you can quickly improve your customer service and call handling skills. Consider the following question:
What is your customer’s first interaction with your company like?
The first interaction that a customer will have with your company will most likely be over the phone. After reading reviews about your business online or hearing from a friend about what a great job you did for them, the customer will call.
This call will have a massive impact on the rest of this buyer’s journey, so it is important that your business handles it well.
If you have an in-house receptionist or staff member who answers calls, make sure they understand the importance of tone of voice and effective telephone communication skills.
If your work with an answering service or call center, reassess their service levels. You want to consider:
- How quickly are they answering your phone calls?
- Do your customers enjoy dealing with this answering service or call center? You can check this by listening to customer calls, an option that any good answering service should offer upon request.
- Are they reliable?
Your choice of answering service or call center provider will always impact your business, but it could also affect your revenue. Read "The Top 6 Reasons Why Cheaper Answering Service Leads to Lost Revenue" to learn more.
The next question you should consider is:
How are my technicians and staff members handling customers throughout their experience with our HVAC company?
A proper answering service or call operator is necessary to keep callers on the line and turn them into customers, but whether they leave as happy customers depends mostly on your staff and technicians.
Customer service plays a huge role in this outcome of your customer's satisfaction. Use the article "Tips for Improving Customer Service" to help your staff and technicians get up to speed on best practices.
If your HVAC business isn't currently active in using word of mouth marketing, now is the best time to start. As long as your contracting company is up to par with customer service and service levels, your customers will share their experience with others and generate new leads for your business.