The Good, Bad and Ugly of Online Reviews for Landscaping Companies, Lawn and Tree Care Services

chad-cowboy.jpgCertain marketing experiences are etched into my brain. One such story is a tale of an industry pal, Butch. He owns a lawn care company in the midwest and I’ve gotten to know him over a number of years, hanging out at industry conferences and swapping war stories and marketing tips. He loves his business and team and truly cares about his customers.

I saw Butch a few years ago, and he emailed about a month later, as he was staring down the barrel of his first bad online review. I called him and we talked through the situation and I offered some tips on handling the bad review.

The funny thing about online reviews for landscaping companies or lawn care and tree services is that we either want to buy them a round of drinks or take them out in the town square and shoot them full of holes. The more passionate you are about your reputation, the more emotions will flow when it’s challenged.

In this article, we’ll cover the good, the bad, and the downright ugly reviews your landscaping company or lawn and tree service may get, and how to handle each of them...(and yes, that's me in that cowboy-photoshop above).

(RELATED PODCAST:  If I Were Your Marketing Director, Here's What I Would Do)

 

An Online Reputation That’s Bigger Than Life

Online reviews are one of the most valuable marketing assets for a landscaping, lawn care, or tree service. Online reviews offer social proof and have become an integral way buyers decide which company they want to learn more about and ultimately choose.

How to deal with good and bad online reviews for landscaping companies. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Before they even go to your website or schedule a free consultation with your sales people, online reviews tell the prospect a story that is larger than life. If your green industry company has few (or zero) online reviews, or if you aren’t visibly interacting with the good, bad or ugly reviews your prospective customers are seeing, your reputation may be in grave danger.

Not only do your prospective customers care about your reputation, but search engines do as well. Conduct an online search relating
to your business category and location and you’ll see that most noticeable listings often correlate with the amount of reviews the company has posted. And which search results are you more likely to click on, the one with the 3-star rating or the one with 4.75 stars? Yeah, I thought so.

Extra, Extra, Read All About It! Customer Leaves Good Review

How to deal with good and bad online reviews for landscaping companies. We love the good online reviews. We print them out and share them with our team. We want to buy the loyal customer and everyone else a round of drinks. It’s time to celebrate! But just sharing good reviews internally misses a great chance to properly thank your brand evangelist and also show your true colors to prospective customers.

Good Reviews & How to Respond:  

  • Try to identify the customer if you can to do some research. Respect their anonymity, but sometimes it’s easy with certain names.
  • Respond within a week, but even more quickly if you can.
  • Be grateful for their time and kind words. Most happy customers don’t even leave reviews.
  • Be original in your response. No comments should ever look similar.
  • Offer more than a few words. Write several sentences and be clever. Naturally use keywords if possible in your reply.
  • Talk about what services they mentioned, paying attention to key points other readers may be pondering.
  • Tell them you’re sharing their comment with your team. It shows a culture that celebrates customer satisfaction.

Here’s an example of how to respond to good online reviews for landscaping companies:

Customer, Jim P. leaves a 5-Star Review:  Wow! I love my backyard. All my neighbors think the work you did looks amazing. I’ll be sure to recommend you in the future.

Owner’s Response:  Jim, thanks so much for taking some of your valuable time to let us know how you feel and to trust us enough to pass our name on to others! We hope that your family gets a lot of use out of your paver patio! We’ll be sure that your landscape designer and the installation team gets a copy of your review. Reviews like these are the reason we all come to work each day!

The Lukewarm Review:  Job Was Great, But Slow As Molasses in January

How to deal with good and bad online reviews for landscaping companies. Then there’s the lukewarm review, or those with back-handed compliments. These often present themselves with the fence-teetering 3-Star review, but some do make their way into the twos and fours.

A customer is fairly happy with results but something went awry along the way. They may forgive you in time, but they want people to know there’s still room for improvement. They also may be fishing to still get some issues resolved. This is a great opportunity for your company to probe more deeply to resolve issues and show your helpful character.

Lukewarm Reviews & How to Respond

  • Respond as quickly as possible. Don’t let it go more than 12 hours.
  • Try to identify the customer. If it’s not easily concluded, provide them with an alternate means of how to contact you so you can get more details.
  • Empathize with their concerns and goals.
  • Don’t make excuses, shift blame, or assume you know the whole situation until you learn more details.
  • Acknowledge any positive elements of their comment.
  • Take ownership of the solution.

Here’s an example of how to respond to lukewarm online reviews for tree services:

Customer, Mary Z. leaves a 3-Star Review:  Came out quickly and took the tree down, but the stump’s still there 3 days later. I hope they are coming back or guess I’ll have to call and complain.

Owner’s Response:  Mary, we’re happy it just happened to work out to fit your tree removal job in a little early for you since the crew finished up a little more quickly than we anticipated on another job. Thanks for allowing us to fit you in on Monday afternoon. Rest assured, we didn’t forget about your stump removal. With the rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, we wanted to make sure the ground wasn’t too soft. Driving the stump grinder on your lawn could have left some ruts. Looking back, we should have given you a call to communicate that, so sorry for assuming you knew this. I just spoke to Mark, the crew leader, and he says the conditions will be favorable on Friday to finish that part of the job. I’ll have him call if something changes. Thanks again and call me directly if you have any other questions! -Bob Smith

Customers can go back and change their review. After the job is all taken care of, discuss with the client, that they have this option once completely satisfied. Just tell them if they wish, they can log back into the site and there should be an easy way to edit their prior review and change the rating. Don’t insist, and only ask politely once. You’d be surprised, but some customers will willingly turn your 3-Star into a four or a five.

The Bad Online Review:  My Lawn Is Ugly As a Burnt Boot!

How to deal with good and bad online reviews for landscaping companies. It’s bound to happen, even to the best companies. Someone is going to leave you not just a bad review, but a downright ugly one. They will personally attack you, your people, and try to hang you in the town square.

You may want to come out with guns blazin’, or hide like a yella’ bellied toad. But you just cannot ignore the bad review and hope that it gets buried. You also can’t overreact. It takes true grit to handle a bad review with class and come out the winner on these ugly duels.

Bad Online Reviews & How to Respond

  • Respond as quickly as possible. Don’t let it go more than 12 hours.
  • State the rarity. Try to let them know that this is an anomaly that you are upset that happened and need to discuss it ASAP with your team.
  • Empathize with their concerns and goals and use emotionally expressive, yet professional language when responding.
  • Try to identify the customer. If it’s not easily concluded, provide them with an alternate means of how to contact you so you can get more details. If you cannot identify them easily, state that.
  • Don’t make excuses, shift blame, or assume you know the whole situation until you learn more details.
  • Don’t lecture, berate, or patronize the customer.
  • Document what you have done to resolve the complaint.
  • Take ownership of the solution, stating your name and contact info.

Here’s an example of how to respond to bad online reviews for a lawn care company:

Customer, Murray S. leaves a 1-Star Review:  What a joke! They said they would get rid of the weeds in my lawn, but yet there is still crabgrass everywhere. I tried calling them multiple times but no one calls me back. Don’t bother using this company!

Owner’s Response:  Murray, thanks for taking the time to let us know what’s happening with your lawn. I was saddened to see your comments, because your technician usually does a great job at not missing weeds on properties. I’m pretty sure I have identified your account (we don’t have any other Murray). I see that your tech, Josh, left a note on your invoice explaining that the crabgrass control will take about 10-14 days to die due to the dry, hot conditions. We’ll give you a call on day 14 to see how things look and we can definitely stop back to retreat the weeds at no charge. As far as the unreturned calls, I see that Josh called you and left a message on the home phone, with the last two numbers of “82”. He called on Tuesday at 10 am, and then again on Friday at 3:15 pm. Is that number still good? I’ll try to call you now, but you can also reach me at the office M-F, 7am - 5pm. Just ask for Bob Smith.

Of course, there are times where you won’t be able to win, no matter what reasonable efforts or honest mistakes there may be. The point is that everyone online can see your response.

No company is perfect and will make mistakes. The measure of the heart of a company is how they handle these situations.

(RELATED READING:  The 5 Truths of Social Media: Ignore Them at Your Own Risk)

 

The Bogus Online Review:  He’s as Crooked As a Dog’s Hind Legs!

How to deal with good and bad online reviews for landscaping companies. There’s a chance that some bad online reviews for landscaping companies or lawn and tree services may be completely fictitious. This is rare, but it happens. They may even be a competitor posing as a disgruntled customer. Still, they may be legitimate but you cannot get enough of a response to take any corrective actions.

If you’ve gone through the steps above, and haven’t gotten a response, you can also go back and add-to or change your response.

Here’s an example of how to respond to the bad online reviews used above. Go back into the review and edit your response like this:

  • Customer, Murray S. leaves a 1-Star Review:  What a joke! They said they would get rid of the weeds in my lawn, but yet there is still crabgrass everywhere. I tried calling them multiple times but no one calls me back. Don’t bother using this company!
  • No Reply, Owner’s Response:  Updated Response - Murray, sorry we still haven’t been able to address your concerns. We’re here if you need us... (original response still remains here).

Here’s an example of how to respond to the bad online reviews used above if you cannot identify who the person is. Go back into the review and edit your response like this:

  • No Validation, Owner’s Original Response:  I’m sorry and surprised to hear you aren’t fully satisfied. That isn’t very common that we hear this. I am having trouble finding your account to remedy this issue. We don’t have a Murray S in our records. Could this account be under another name, perhaps? You can contact me directly by calling our office and asking for Bob Jones. I’d like to get to the bottom of this and hopefully fix this problem for you.

Just not getting a reply isn’t a case for petitioning the review site to remove a review. However, there may be a slight chance of the review sites removing it if they can conclude it’s bogus. I haven’t seen this happen many times, but it’s not impossible. You can typically easily report a review that is abusive or suspicious on the review site. Look for buttons nearby or search online for instructions.

A Trail Blazed for a Purposeful Online Review Strategy

How to deal with good and bad online reviews for landscaping companies. After a few reviews, you may start realizing that without an intentional effort, you’re handling online reviews incorrectly. You may need to appoint a new sheriff in your organization with a full array of deputies to assist them in handling reviews. Think it through and make sure to set up the proper notifications so they learn about reviews immediately.

You also may be struggling to get more good online reviews for your landscaping company, or lawn and tree service. That’s a story for another time, but that will also take some careful thought and learning what works and what does not.

In any case, we hope your great reputation precedes you two towns away and throughout the valley. Much obliged for reading this article, and we wish happy trails to you.

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