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There was a time when positive reviews were nice-to-have. An online presence was helpful, but not absolutely necessary for a HVAC business to survive.

Word-of-mouth support was more important than collecting online reviews. But with the onset of COVID-19 and a catalysed digital transformation, the way businesses get found and chosen has changed significantly.

Approximately 97 per cent of consumers turn to online search to find a local business or service. Around 70 to 80 per cent of consumers research a business online before engaging with them, and the top three search results get 60 per cent of the clicks.

Showing up first in an online search has become vital to surviving in our marketplace. And the key to showing up first as an HVAC business is, of course, reviews.

Reviews have become a crucial gateway in the HVAC customer journey. According to a recent report from Podium, reviews influence 84 per cent of Australian customers in discovering a local business. They’re 2.5x more likely to be an important factor in choosing a local business than popularity, and 4.5x more likely to be an important factor than traditional marketing.

Some 62 per cent of Australian consumers have read a review in the last week, and almost a third have read a business’s reviews right outside the business to decide if they should go in or not.

However, while the majority of Australian consumers clearly read reviews regularly, getting customers to leave reviews is quite a different story. The vast majority of Australian consumers leave a review once a quarter or less. And over a fourth say they’ve never left one. Why? Most review processes are not convenient—and rarely easy. Inconvenience, complexity, and friction in the review invitation process often prevent customers from leaving reviews.

It’s clear that businesses need to rethink how they ask for and manage their reviews. According to Podium’s research, the most successful way to overcome common barriers is through text. Since COVID, 65.6 per cent of consumers think that texting makes working with a local business more convenient.

Consumers are twice as likely (1.8x) to prefer texting over any other communication method, and 40.5 per cent of consumers say they are likely to switch to a different business because the business offers text messaging to communicate.

In wake of COVID-19, customers are looking for a modern, frictionless customer experience. 85.5 per cent of consumers expect local businesses to offer more convenient communication and services now than they did prior to COVID. Text is the key to providing that outstanding customer journey and collecting thousands of high-quality reviews.

Podium empowers local businesses to do just that—deliver a seamless customer experience and gather reviews through the power of messaging. With Podium Reviews, businesses can send a simple text with a review link at key touchpoints in their customer journey. The results speak for themselves.

With Podium, Gold Coast Plumbing jumped from 50 reviews to 400 in just two years. Paschal Air, Plumbing, and Electric attained over a 1,000 reviews and a 4.9 star rating. According to owner, Charley Boyce: “You’ve got to change. Your customers are doing it, and either you’re going to do it or your competition is—you might as well beat them to it.”

2021 is definitely a year to leave a lot of things behind—but don’t let one of those things be your business. Customers are ready to patronize businesses who will provide the customer experience they want and earn their trust. With text and stellar reviews, you will be the first one they message.

Learn how to get found and chosen consistently with Podium.

 

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