In a world where online customer reviews hold such strong value, it’s important for businesses to do all they can to provide memorable customer experiences and encourage positive feedback on online review sites. For residential service providers, it’s even more crucial, thanks to a new study that found an overwhelming number of customers prefer choosing residential service provider based on the reviews they seen online.

Software Advice, a software consultating company for organizations of different backgrounds and industries, recently surveyed residential service customers to determine what role online review sites play in the selection of a residential service companies. We believe the key findings in this study will not only help companies with a home service background, but all organizations and businesses to provide a better understanding of their customers as well as their reputation online.

Key Findings:

1. 86% of customers said they would be willing to pay more for a service provider with positive customer reviews.

It looks like customers are willing to pay a little bit more if they’re guaranteed a good experience. Since word of mouth will always a strong point of persuasion, it’s essential for businesses to not only focus on tasks and infrastructure but building good customer relationships as well. Doing so creates brand enthusiasts and loyal customers that will be willing to make positive recommendations and reviews to others.

2. 96% of customers consider online reviews to be moderately to “extremely valuable”

With 25% of that 96% considering online reviews to be “extremely valuable,” businesses should indeed focus on fostering good feedback but also monitoring and managing their current online reputation. That’s by encouraging customers to make positive reviews and appropriately addressing negative reviews. Customers value online reviews because they provide “snapshots” of what type of service they could be receiving from your company. If a business focuses on providing overall value: high-quality services & competitive pricing, positive reviews should come naturally.

3. The most important information customers look for in online reviews is quality of service (87%) and cost (78%)

This interesting finding may not be something a business can control, but businesses can certainly take control of the review sites they’re listed in to share information that will help sway a customer’s buying decision. This is by including store hours, website, photos of award-wining or complete work, photos of & friendly staff. This can extend the time a user stays on a review site and provide a competitive edge if a customer is between you and two other companies.

4. The majority of customers seek online resources to find services

With a majority of customers on mobile and tablet devices, and the rise of online review sites, it makes sense that customers prefer to seek information on the Internet rather than through more traditional forms such as asking for referrals from family members and friends. Because of the overwhelming amount of resources available online, it’s important for businesses to build a web presence – this includes a website, social media, and online review presence. Search engine optimization doesn’t hurt either! The study found that search engines were the most popular way to find and select service providers, followed closely by online review sites.

5. Yelp is the most popular online review site

Software Advice broke down Google search results data on plumbers in the top 30 cities in the U.S. and examined which online review sites the reviews corresponded with. They found that a majority (43%) came from Yelp, followed by Google+, and Angie’s List.

Although Yelp is known for providing a majority of restaurant reviews, restaurants only make up 20% of total review profiles on Yelp; 11% of reviewed businesses are in the home and local services. Again, it’s important to claim popular review sites like Yelp and encourage positive reviews and referrals from happy customers. The inevitable is that for every several positive reviews, a business may get a negative review. It’s important to not ignore negative reviews but address them appropriately. This lets customers know that you’re able to own up to mistakes and helps you build credibility in the long run.

For more tips on online reputation, take a look at more of our resources.