After tracking influencing factors from slightly over 12,000 Reviews during 2017, we have findings below that confirm homeowners / customers rely on multiple factors to help them make their final hiring decisions when it comes to choosing the right home improvement service providers for them. Keep in mind that in most cases, reviewers checked off an average of four factors that impacted their final decisions to hire.
Overall, we found the rankings to be fascinating as they really lay out a picture or a sequence of how a “typical” due diligence process can flow, where the impacts are made, and how they affect a customer emotionally. There are a definitive set of experiences that occur during this process, each that move a customer’s confidence meter closer or further from being able to take action with a business. It is important for businesses to acknowledge how closely each of the factors on our list work together and work your customers. You will see how each of the 21 factors fell into our four groups below followed by our assessment of these results.
Our assessment of these results:
It didn’t surprise us to see how this list stacked up this year. In 2017, there was a sharp dip in many service industries in customer servicing. These responses reflect customers’ desires to be treated better and affirm that many were after more positive customer experiences wherever they could find them.
The five-star group seems to be shouting “quality counts.” “Prove yourself to me and I'll consider hiring you." Several of these influencers reflect the instinctive due diligence process at work. Most recent surveys show that close to 96% of consumers spend between 3 hours and 3 weeks researching local business options as well as educating themselves on the service, products, colors, and pricing available as they relate to their upcoming projects. In this due diligence process, consumers try to appease three needs that will eventually guide them to a confident hiring decision. First is an education. Consumers want to learn and feel smarter, especially if they are considering working on a project they have not done before or in a long time. By learning as much as they can, they are hoping to reduce their vulnerability as a consumer. Second, they need to trust. Validation of a business’s quality, experience, and intents help them trust. Each of these things also help assess a business's reputation. Third, they want a positive experience. Customers want to find things easily and quickly. These comfort levels can begin for many consumers by visiting business’s websites and reading reviews.
The “responsive” answer is a shout-out to all businesses. The high marks this influencer earned mirrors what we hear far too often from consumers, that so many businesses don’t ever call them back. The number one customer complaint for over ten years running is the lack of a return call. We had many comments from reviewers who told us about companies that never called them back. I can only imagine how many lost opportunities that amounted to. (An unsolicited suggestion: Even if you are unable to take on a job, or don’t want to, calling back the customer and telling them you are booked, and even providing a back up referral can win points for you that could end up going your way down the road. We have seen this happen countless times!)
Availability made sense to be in the top rung, especially for those more urgent repairs and timely projects that can’t wait.
The four-star group was interesting to us, and should hopefully, be to business owners, as well. People buy from people. It’s a timeless reality. Nice to see Salesperson earn the accolades to be in this grouping. The 4-star group seems to represent a “next phase” for many of our reviewers. A level of confidence was more than likely obtained through the factors in the 5-star group, enough for many to have extended their consideration to one or more businesses. This seems like the “reach out” phase where actual contacts were made along with impressions and more evaluating.
Referrals deserve to be ranked high, but suffice it to be known, referrals are not the slam dunk job they used to be back in the day. Our team looked a little more closely at the referral influencer and pulled some additional data from our Review Forms. 92% of the check marks for “referral” were also accompanied by other factors that were included in the 5-star group, such as Company’s website, Reviews on this company, and Company’s reputation. This affirms a consumer behavior we have seen for a while. It is a little bit off, but for the most part, 10% of people who receive a referral will be comfortable enough to give them a call without trepidation. The other 90% will still check out their referrals. Other influencers in the 3-star and 2-star groups showed up along with the referral check mark, as well. From the 3-star group, Comfort level and Have seen quality of their work were checked 31% of the time. From the 2-star group, price was checked 8% of the time along with the referral check mark.
Initial contact with company was positive was a new factor we added to our criteria list as a test in the middle of last year. We all know that those impressions are make or break moments for most consumers. Hats off to all the companies who were rated high on this influencer. Even in a shorter amount of time in the test, this influencer ranked very high. A good reminder of how important it is to have the right people in this role in your company. The few seconds we are all afforded to make this perfect impression will determine a customer or not and revenue or not. A smart focus area for businesses if they are lacking there.
Professionalism and knowledgeable are both important factors. They speak to a business’s character and competence, two large parts of the total trust equation. Professionalism was checked consistently with many others for a total of 65% of the time. Knowledgeable was right in line at 63%.
Educational information from the company surprised us a little bit, in a good way. We weren’t expecting to see it rank as high, only because this is an area where many home improvement service providers are lacking. We are not positive of how this reads, but our theory is that because consumers thirst for the education, they are more determined to keep looking until they find enough to satisfy themselves. An opportunity area here for contractors to make a point to put more of their pearls of wisdom out there.Their customers apparently want it.
The 3-star grouping seems like it serves a purpose of reinforcing some of the emotions that go along with making a hiring decision. Gut feeling felt right and Comfort level, as well as Have seen quality of work reflect a signal of safety. Warranties and Had right credentials seem like checklist items that needed to be checked off to satisfy an “I am making a smart decision because I have crossed all my t’s and dotted all my i’s. ”There is a point to this mindset for many consumers.
Location moved further down the list this year. We are not positive as to why, but our guess is that quality and availability likely were stronger influencers over where a business started out in the morning.
From “an ad” took a dive on the list, as well. Our best guess is that it actually makes sense and coincides with customer behavior in 2017. Ads are important and have a succinct purpose. Ads get a business in front of a customer but are rarely the reason a hiring decision is made. That said, ads should be given more credit to the overall hiring journey. For those that hit the right people at the right time, it is typically the starting point of a due diligence process. Although business validation and education will play a part, some would not have gotten there without having seen an ad.
We think the reason Have hired previously ranked low isn’t necessarily reflective of how important repeat customers are. We think the reviewer group was made up of a higher volume of first time customers versus repeat customers.
Are you surprised? Happy? Confused? About price coming in so low? All in all, it is affirming to see that there are still certain things that are important to customers like quality and real people. Price matters, absolutely. It seems like two overriding emotions lean towards price needing to be fair, and customers being willing to pay more for quality. This group of reviewers seem more focused on making an educated decision, receiving quality, and feeling trust and confidence over the whole process. Our guess is that if all that plays out for them, they will hopefully be getting what they pay for.
As a home improvement service provider, I hope these findings are useful and helpful to you as you confirm or adjust your priorities for 2018.
About The Service Guide
We have been facilitating connections between consumers and contractors since 2004.
For close to 97% of consumers, TRUST has the strongest influence over their hiring decisions; more than any other factor. With stakes that high, our company was built around this focus.
Our tools, services and expertise have assisted businesses in understanding this influence and the opportunities that TRUST can afford them. You can explore these tools and services and learn how you, too, can ensure your business is profiting from TRUST, in the ways that you should.