Matthias Schultze: Customer reviews should be compulsory for any business or trade
Can online reviews help improve the quality of work operations? From his own experience, Matthias Schultze, visionary and MD for professional painter enterprise Heyse, knows that this is possible. He's convinced that a good online reputation can combat a shortage of skilled labour in trade and industry. Tips on this subject can be found on his blog, where he shares his factors for success and describes ways to draw viewers' attention online, with customer feedback taking the top spot here. In our interview, he explains how ProvenExpert has helped him to position his business on the market in the best possible way, and why for him, labour shortage is not an issue.
Why is a good online reputation so important in trade? There are no shortage of customers in this sector...
That's true. It's extremely important, because whether good or bad, customer evaluations are very beneficial for a company's reputation. It really helps you polish your brand profile. What you as a business say may reinforce this, but positive reviews from customers bring your profile to another level. It's just the same with a negative review – in my opinion, this offers a good opportunity. Backlogs can be identified and dealt with faster. In my view, working alongside customer feedback is an absolute necessity when you have your own business.
Does your online reputation also help when it comes to searching for employees?
Definitely! I mean, who wants to work in a company that's boring? Young people today want to be on the stage. I intentionally place my focus on my employees, because they are the true value of my business. I'm just the conductor, but it's the music that makes the orchestra. I just give the beat.
You're asking if there's a shortage of skilled labour? I'll tell you one thing: „there is no skills shortage! It's rather that a company is not attractive enough to potential employees.“ Skills shortage was invented by politicians. The issue is that there are too many unattractive employers. If they don't change and don't carve out their profile as an employer, they will stay that way and be unable to find staff. We don't have any employee shortages. It's not a problem! People come to our door out on their own initiative and want to be part of our team. A lot of young people want to go into trade, but if a company looks boring, they are simply not interested. The industry must be sexy, must be cool. A job as a painter must be as attractive as a job at Audi. Audi is sexy. If a trade business is not sexy, it cannot expect to get the right people. Feedback is also key: The positive impact on my business is proof of this.
Why did you choose ProvenExpert and do you use additional review portals?
I play around with my company's content on many platforms. On a professional level, we use Facebook, Instagram etc., and of course also have our internet website and a blog. Our customer base consists of different target groups and everyone evaluates us in different ways, so for instance on Google, Facebook or Xing.
They are so many different review platforms that I asked myself, „how can I integrate all this into one digital environment,“ and „is there an intelligent platform that can bring everything together, in one place?“ For me, it's important that customers can view everything as a whole. Via a ProvenExpert profile, you can access all the other profiles. The ratings and reviews left on ProvenExpert take primary position, but the great thing is that you can see everything on one page without needing to leave it. That's a big plus! I've noticed that are lots of individual solutions, but none on the master class level. Apart from ProvenExpert.
Since you started using ProvenExpert, what have been the advantages for your business?
ProvenExpert is easy to use and has simplified my workflow. Customer feedback opens doors and I have been able to open these doors easier and faster through using ProvenExpert. In the digital age, speed is everything and is a necessary factor for business. Being faster and better than market competitors is key. I have been part of the analogue age, but I now live in the digital age and it's the people that bring their ideas to life in long-term, sustainable ways that are the most innovative. ProvenExpert enabled me to improve the quality of individual operating processes, and therefore quality as a whole.
Since using ProvenExpert, have you been able to increase revenue and generate new customers?
ProvenExpert has definitely contributed to our success in this way. Many new customers say that online reviews were a decisive factor for them. In percentage terms, it's responsible for an increase in customers and therefore for our success. But Google seller ratings have been helpful too, since they draw more attention to the business and generate more clicks.
Lots of companies and tradespeople have a justified fear of critical or negative reviews. How do you deal with these?
If I'm worried about receiving negative feedback, there has to be a reason for it – whether it lies with the company, product or employee. If you are active online, there is always the danger that an envious person will rate you negatively. But I've got the panacea. If someone criticises the service I provide publicly online, I always make a point of answering them. I start by thanking them for the constructive criticism, which takes the wind out of their sails – they may be a troll, after all. I suggest that readers engage in the same professional way with any negative-thinking people who want to cause a problem. This way, anyone who wants to harm us will need to be vigilant and come up with a new strategy. I'll then write a blog post about this. I am often criticised, I'm often attacked, but I always find a solution and I am always working on myself and on my company.
Nobody should be afraid of critical feedback; you just deal with it in a constructive manner. You can then work on it and improve things. This method also helps me with problem solving in my business operations. If we receive criticism, I have a sit-down with my coworkers and we discuss how we could do things better in future. This context helps us establish new goals and come up with new ideas and the chance to work better and in a more reliable and productive way.
How do your customers react to feedback invitations and which tools do you use to send invitations and what's your response rate?
We send about 80 invoices a month and send an invitation to leave a review with 10% of these. The reason for the low percentage is that we do regular work for a large number of clients and can take on up to three jobs a month for some of them. Many of our customers have already left reviews about us previously, so I only invite new customers to rate us and give feedback. The response rate is very high. Out of all invitations I send out, I receive feedback from around 98% of our customers – sometimes it can take a while to get feedback.
Via ProvenExpert, I usually create a survey. Say we've painted a living room for a customer, I could set up a survey called painting, location, living room, color. I generate a number of search terms this way. Then I also send an email addressing them personally. For this I use premade content and templates by ProvenExpert, which only need to be modified a little beforehand.
Would you recommend our portal to other companies and why?
Working to improve your own product and your own company is highly important. And ProvenExpert is the right way to help you do this. That's something I've shared with my partner companies in our network MeinMaler. As it stands, this network of painting firms has 20 members, and it's my goal to make us even more successful. So I'm an organiser, motivator and social media manager in one. In a kickoff meeting, they learn about ProvenExpert and start off using a trial version of your plans, which I help them set up. We then decide which plan is best for our needs. And the great thing is, all of these companies are now using your tool, with successful results. I feel that entrepreneurs from all sectors can benefit from using ProvenExpert, since it's a super tool, attracts attention, offers expert advice and is a platform that is recognized and really works!
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