Last year, Moz released a study with an important takeaway: an impressive 67% of consumers are influenced by online reviews. More than half of the respondents (54.7%) admitted that online reviews were “fairly, very, or absolutely an important part of their decision-making process.”
Both numbers are impressive, but they shouldn’t necessarily surprise us. After all, referrals and recommendations have always played an integral role in acquiring new business. Customer review websites like Yelp can simplify (and even amplify) that referral process, and — except in some unfortunate cases — help customers learn what they can realistically expect when choosing a service provider.
Still, many business owners worry about the prevalence — and assumed trustworthiness — of online reviews. What if someone gives an unfair evaluation of the services rendered? What if the only people motivated enough to leave reviews are the ones with negative experiences?
Reviews matter to all business types, but it’s a far more serious affair for funeral homes. Funeral services are amongst the most serious and sensitive services a person will ever need to search for, and it’s safe to say that families will take online reviews very seriously. Families will always want to provide their departed loved ones with the best service they can afford, and they will increasingly turn to the experiences of others to make their decisions.
Where will families look? Funeral homes are routinely reviewed on the most popular customer review sites like Yelp, Google Local, and Angie’s List, as well as new websites designed exclusively for the deathcare profession like Parting.com and FuneralHomeRatingZ.
If you’re concerned about your online reputation, don’t fret. Here are some simple tips to help you reduce the likelihood that negative things will be published about your business, monitor the things that are being said, and handle any incidents that might arise:
- Educate the families you work with about the value of a funeral, the associated costs, and about the different things they should expect throughout the entire process. When a family has a solid understanding and realistic expectations, they are far less likely to end up disgruntled or dissatisfied later on.
- Invest in a subscription to a service like Reputology, ReviewPush, or Review Trackers, which will allow your funeral home to monitor and manage online reviews by providing alerts, dashboards, and analytics. These services cost between $25-$29 per month, so if you’re uncomfortable signing up for a paid service, you can always task a staff member with periodically checking the most popular customer review sites for reviews of your funeral home (or do it yourself).
- If you locate a review that feels suspicious, reach out to the review site. Yelp, for example, generally prohibits business owners from posting negative reviews of their competitors’ businesses. It’s important to remember, however, that most review sites will not remove a post unless it violates their rules.
- If an unhappy customer takes to a review site to vent their frustrations, respond to them publicly, quickly, and directly. If appropriate, acknowledge the mistakes that were made, and in more urgent cases, try to offer something to the family to make them feel better.
- Ensure your funeral home has an attractive and respectable online presence. When families research your funeral home, one of the first things they’ll see is your website. A well-designed funeral home website inspires trust and confidence in visitors, and can even provide you with a designated place for positive testimonials from other families you’ve served in the past.