Turn bad reviews into great adverts for your company with our new ‘report, remove, respond’ feature

Even the best companies in the world get bad reviews now and then.

No company hits the mark 100% of the time. But what sets the customer service greats apart from some companies we could mention is how they respond when they do get negative feedback.

You see, a well-worded reply can turn even the most scathing review into a shining advert for your company – and our latest update to the Bark website is designed to let you do exactly that.

You can now report abuse, remove duplicate reviews and respond directly to any feedback you receive using the ‘Reviews’ tab in your Bark dashboard.

Today, we’d like to show you how this brand new feature works – and run you through our top tips for using it to handle negative customer reviews should the need ever arise.

Why bad reviews aren’t so bad

According to customer support experts Zendesk, a full 88% of customers make their buying decisions based on reviews. That’s why getting positive reviews on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Bark is so important.

But there is a school of thought in marketing that says a bad review can actually be a good thing.

For one thing, it makes people checking your reviews feel like they’ve “done their homework”, taking them one step closer to deciding whether to pay for your services.

It also helps to legitimise all your good reviews. After all, if you were going to fake them, why would you bother making up a bad one?

Most importantly, it gives you a chance to respond to the feedback and show people how great your company really is.

Remember, when responding to any review your prospects are your real audience. Show them that you care about your customers and they may decide you’re the right pro for them after all.

Here’s how to use our new interactive reviews feature to do just that:

How to effectively combat negative
reviews in three simple steps

Contrary to what many people think, negative reviews actually have the potential to increase the number of sales you make.

It’s all about how you respond to them – and thanks to our latest site upgrade, now you can! Simply log into your Bark account and click the ‘Reviews’ tab to the left of your screen to manage your reviews.

There, you can quickly ask your previous customers to leave you a review, report any abusive ones that come in, and reply to all the feedback you receive directly:

You can now review, report and respond to all your reviews in your Bark profile
You can now view, report and respond to all your reviews in your Bark profile.

We’ll happily remove any review that’s abusive, or from someone you’ve never actually done business with. But please note that we’ll never remove a review simply because it’s bad.

Of course, we hope you only ever hear from your many satisfied customers. But, if you ever do need to deal with someone who was less than happy with your services, here’s how we recommend you handle it:

  1. Acknowledge the issue and own it – your first objective when responding to any complaint is to communicate that you’re paying attention to the issue. Show anyone who reads the review that when someone has a problem, you listen.
  2. Show that future customers won’t have this issue – next, you should communicate that something has changed and anyone reading this review needn’t worry about the same thing happening to them.
  3. Offer to fix the issue, if possible. Even if you feel like the reviewer is way off the mark, and the problem is with them not you: don’t write that you feel that way. Stay polite and friendly, and suggest that the customer might like to email you directly to resolve the issue.

The important thing is to show anyone who reads this very public conversation that you care about your customers, and are doing everything you can to ensure they receive a superior service.

It’s easy to take negative feedback personally. So perhaps the most important advice we can give is to never send your response in the heat of the moment. Draft your reply, then take a little while to cool off. Come back to it later on with a fresh pair of eyes and make sure you don’t sound too defensive before you click ‘send’.

Of course, the best way to balance out bad reviews is to make sure your happy customers post about their experiences on your Bark profile.

But sticking to these simple guidelines should help you transform any negative feedback you get into glowing adverts for your future customers – which is exactly why we launched our new reviews feature in the first place.

We hope you find this new addition to our site useful! Let us know what you think of it by emailing team@bark.com, or leaving a comment below.

How we give you better leads than Google AdWords – for a fraction of the cost

If you’ve tried growing your business online with Google’s AdWords service, you already know it’s not for everyone.

The costs are increasing year on year. You’re competing with giants like Amazon that will happily spend £34million-a-year on paid search advertising. Even small businesses routinely spend upwards of £6,500-a-month on PPC, according to online advertising experts WordStream. 

With some popular keywords costing as much as £38 per click, it’s easy to see why so many people struggle to make this kind of marketing strategy work for their business. It takes great deal of research and technical know-how to get up and running – and that’s where Bark comes in.

We provide an affordable service that sends you better quality leads than you typically get from paid search advertising, at a fraction of the price. That’s why we believe every small business can grow quickly and easily with Bark.com.

Yet some people seem to think we’re more expensive than Google.

So today we’ll show you how we beat AdWords on both quality and price – and why, if you aren’t already, you should start winning new customers with Bark right away.

The real problem with online advertising

The promise of “pay per click” (PPC) advertising is simple: if the people who click on your ads spend more than it costs you to provide your services and run your ads, you turn a profit.

Sounds easy, right?

The problem is, only a very small percentage the people who click your ads actually end up spending any money.

Imagine you’re a DJ looking to promote your services in Manchester. Let’s say you put an ad on Google which costs you 50p per click.

Being fairly tech savvy, your website is decent. But you know a high percentage of the people who click your ad will just be browsing. So, based on what you’ve read online, you expect around 12% of them to ask you for an estimate.

That means you can get 100 clicks for £50, and generate roughly 12 enquiries. That works out at £4.17 per enquiry.

Mind you, not all those enquiries will be useful. You might be busy on the day they need you, their budget might be too small, or they might be too far away for the trip to be worth your while.

But let’s assume 75% of the enquiries you get are for jobs you want to do. So from 100 clicks you receive nine valid enquiries, costing you £5.55 each.

Even though you respond promptly and politely to each of those nine people, only six of them get back to you. Perhaps the other three weren’t really serious in the first place. Maybe they simply forgot to respond. It’s annoying, sure, but these things happen.

You still have six potential customers who have read your quote – and each of which has cost you £8.33. But, of course, most people will shop around to make sure they get a good deal.

In our experience, people like to get 2-5 different quotes before they make a final decision. So let’s assume each of your leads has also contacted two other sellers – giving you a one in three chance of securing the business.

That should translate into two new customers, and an average cost per booking of £25.

Here’s what Bark does differently

Ask a marketer what’s different about Bark and he’ll say we’re “further along the buyer journey” than Bing or Google. What that means is, there are fewer opportunities for the buyer to drop off.

We handle all the PPC for you completely free of charge, and hunt down quality leads for your business using a variety of other techniques.

Then you can see exactly what your potential customers are looking for in advance, from their budget, to when and where they need your services – and everything else you might need to decide if they’re right for you.

Plus, you’ll never waste money on people who aren’t serious about hiring you, as we’ll refund every estimate you give that doesn’t get read.

Now, the average Bark gets just over two responses, and each potential customer may have tried somewhere else too.

You can respond to a DJ Bark for just five credits, which will usually cost you £5 + VAT. So if we assume they’ve contacted two other pros in total, your chance of winning the business is one in three again.

That means, in this example, each booking costs you just £18, and you save 28% compared to what Google would have charged you.

That’s why we believe Bark is a smarter, more effective way to find new customers online – but the story doesn’t end there:

You could save another 30% today

The bottom line here is that, in many cases, using Bark to grow your business can be much better value than other lead finding services.

Of course, every business is different, and it may be that PPC strategies work well for you – and if so, that’s great.

But if you’d prefer not to bother with the hassle and expense of managing an AdWords account, and don’t want to deal with the expense of hiring an agency to do it for you: we can help.

Not only can we often send you high quality leads at a fraction of the cost of Google AdWords, but you can also enjoy extra discounts on packs of Bark Credits – making our service even more profitable.

In fact, if you open a new Bark account today you’ll be able to claim an extra saving of 30% on your first credit pack.

It’s free to sign up, and we’ll start sending you quality leads right away.

So, if you’re not a Bark member already…

Click here and claim your FREE account today.

Four essential steps to getting the perfect customer review

Last week we looked at how our new reviews tool makes asking customers to leave feedback on your Bark profile easier than ever.

We believe getting great reviews is one of the most important things you can be doing to grow your business. But, unfortunately, a lot of the stuff you read online about how you should go about it is just plain wrong. So we’re continuing on the theme again this week.

This time, we’ll run you through four essential steps to help you get great feedback on your Bark profile – and debunk some of the worst myths about how to get reviews online along the way.

Step 1: Ask the right customers

People generally won’t spontaneously leave positive reviews on your site, no matter how great you are. So, if you want them to give you feedback, the first thing you’ll most likely need to do is ask them.

But if it’s good reviews you’re after, asking all of your customers usually isn’t the way to go.

“The right customers are the ones who are getting the most value out of your product,” explains customer support specialist Groove.

“After all, the best reviews don’t just praise a product; they make it abundantly clear exactly who the product is right for.”

You can identify these customers in a variety of ways. For example, if a customer is referring others to your business, then they’re probably very happy with it themselves. 

Similarly, if a customer comes to you for repeat business that suggests they like what you do, and are highly likely to write you a good review.

Step 2: Ask at the right time

Good service is all about making peoples’ lives easier.

You come to us because we deal with the expensive and time-consuming business of marketing your business online for you. Similarly, people come to you because you can help them with something they lack the time, skills or inclination to do themselves.

But if you you leave it too long to ask for feedback, customers won’t appreciate having to wrack their brains trying to remember who you are or what job you did for them.

So the second “essential step” is to ask a customer for a review when you’re still at the top of their mind. That way, it’s easier for them to recall what happened and write an honest review.

We recommend sending your review requests within 14 days of completing a job for someone. Or, better yet, if you work in an industry like Personal Training you can simply ask your current customers to post their feedback.

Step 3: DON’T ask for a good review

Contrary to what you might read elsewhere online, you can’t coerce people into leaving good reviews with special offers. It’s not that it’s impossible to get good reviews this way. But it is deceptive – and, more often than not, a stunt like this will backfire.

“Want to know the best way to increase the number of reviews for your business? Just ask.” writes Forbes’ Nellie Akalp.

“Your customers understand how important reviews are to your business, and as long as you provide an excellent product or service, they won’t be annoyed if you ask for a review.”

But, on the other hand, they may well be annoyed if they feel like you’re not really interested in their opinions.

So while you absolutely should be asking for reviews, you should never ask specifically for a good review. Instead, ask for an honest one.
 

Step 4: Don’t forget the basics

Most importantly, it pays to remember the basics.

There are no shortcuts that will get you tons of reviews overnight. But there is one simple thing you’re probably already doing that will work far better over the long term than anything else.

It’s simple, it’s straightforward – and it works.

You see, the single most important thing you can do to get great reviews on your Bark profile is deliver an outstanding customer experience.

In Oracle’s 2011 Customer Experience Impact Report, the data company cites research that found that 86% of customers will pay more for a better customer experience.

Happy customers help you grow your business in other ways, too. One American Express survey found that, on average, satisfied customers tell nine other people about their experiences.

It can be easy to forget that, ultimately, everything your business does boils down to the quality of service you deliver in the first place.

But if you do a great job and have satisfied customers, that’s half the battle. From there, it’s just a matter of remembering to ask them to give their honest feedback while you’re still fresh in their mind.

Stick to these essential steps and you’ll be getting great reviews in no time – and thanks to our brand new reviews tool, asking happy customers to post reviews on your Bark Profile is now easier than ever. You can see how it works here.

Let us know how you get on! As always, you can reach us by email at team@bark.com.

Getting great reviews on your Bark Profile is now easier than ever

It’s Saturday night. You’ve invited friends over for a film and you fancy a takeaway. Someone suggests an Indian, so you type it into Google and five local restaurants pop up.

Which one do you choose?

Well, if you’re anything like us, you go for the one with the biggest number of positive reviews. If other people like it enough to write about their experiences then it must be good.

That’s why we believe getting positive reviews from your customers is one of the best ways to grow your business and attract more customers.

In this week’s Bark Bulletin, we’ll run you through how we’ve made it easier than ever for customers to leave reviews your Bark Profile – and show you how to start getting great reviews right away.

Why nothing beats a
good review

As a small business owner, we’re sure you already know what a powerful thing a good review can be.

Every company will say it’s good, even if it isn’t. But people know they can trust recommendations from their fellow customers.

In fact, one Zendesk survey found that 90% of people say positive reviews influence their buying decisions, and 86% say their decisions are influenced by negative reviews.

To see this for yourself, imagine you’ve just placed a Bark for Driving Lessons and the following two companies give you an estimate:

pennine 2 pinnacle driving

All other things being equal, most people will opt for the company with the five-star review.

That’s why it’s so important to ask customers to give you feedback on your Bark Profile – and today we’ll show you how.

But before we get to that, there’s one more benefit to getting more Bark reviews we haven’t mentioned yet…

You could get five
stars on Google

If you have a few reviews on your Bark Profile already, you might like to take a moment now to Google yourself and see this feature in action.

It’s one of our favourite features, as it has the potential to really set you apart from any other companies that crop up when a potential customer searches for local services in your area.

As you can see from this entry for one of our top Computer Repairs specialists, your reviews will show up in Google searches as star ratings:

LexisTech is one of the top computer repairs specialists on Bark.comWe’re sure you can imagine what a difference a Google star rating could make for your business.

It could give you a real edge over your competitors and significantly improve your chances of getting hired.

So right now, we’re going to show you how to get one of your very own.

Now it’s easier than ever to
get great reviews on your
Bark Profile

We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to streamline our reviews process, and now it’s easier than ever.

In fact, you can now request a review in a matter of seconds.

You see, every Bark Pro has their own review code.

It’s a unique web address that takes people directly to the reviews section of your Bark Profile. When they arrive, a pop-up box will prompt them to leave their feedback:

reviews box
So, to request a review you simply send a message containing your review link to one of your customers.

Anyone who’s used your services can leave a review on your Bark Profile, even if they didn’t find you through Bark.

But remember, recent customers are far more likely to get back to you than older ones – so it’s best to get in touch and request a review within 14 days of completing the job.

Now, your review code is usually hidden away in your Bark Dashboard under your ‘Profile’ tab.

But, to be honest, we reckon it’s a bit of a pain having to dig it out every time you want to ask someone for feedback – so we’ve created a handy tool that makes the process a whole lot easier.

If you have your customer’s email address, it will automatically send them a short message asking them to leave some feedback on your profile page.

You’ll find it in the brand new ‘Reviews’ tab on your Bark Dashboard, and it looks like this:

Simply enter your customer's email and click send

Better yet, it’s really simple to use…

Whenever you want to request a review from one of your customers, simply enter their email, click ‘invite’ and the reviews tool will do the rest.

That’s really all there is to it!

You can test it out right now by finding the tool in your Dashboard and typing your own email address into the box.

Let us know how you get on. And, as always, if you have any questions send us an email at team@bark.com and we’ll be happy to help.

You’re hired! Join Nick Hewer and Bark.com for a day of SME insight

We’re delighted to announce that Nick Hewer, former right-hand man to Alan Sugar and highly successful businessman is set to join Bark.com on Tuesday, October 6th, for a day of expert advice and insight into SME success.

Nick Hewer, Kai Feller and Andrew Michael
Nick and Bark.com’s founders

After 10 years on The Apprentice, Nick retired from the show at the end of the last season, and is now working as a consultant for a number of small businesses as he continues to make his mark on the UK’s entrepreneurial scene (as well as, of course, presenting Countdown!).

He’s been working with Bark.com since our inception (here’s him explaining how Bark works back in March) and as part of our partnership, next Tuesday, Nick will be taking part in a live Q&A session on via the @barkteam twitter page, giving budding entrepreneurs and small business owners the chance to have their business queries answered by the man himself.

Kai Feller and Nick Hewer shake hands
The start of a great partnership!

Have a burning question? Let us know using the #AskNick hashtag and we’ll do our best to go through as many as we can. Or, if you just happy to sit back and absorb the insights, tune in from 1-2pm.

If you can’t make it though, not to worry – we’ll also be sharing Nick’s top tips for SMEs on our YouTube channel and via our blog, so watch this space. 

The Do’s and Don’ts of DIY: When to Leave It To The Expert

Let’s be honest: We all fancy ourselves as a bit of DIY genius. No job is too complex or great. When it comes to doing it yourself, any danger of causing serious injury or seriously botching up a job goes out the window; it’s all about ego and proving that not every job requires calling ‘The Man’.

In the real world, however, there is only so much the common homeowner can achieve when deciding to do a touch of handy work around a property. More often than not, it pays to get the expert in. Here’s a list of some household tasks that shouldn’t be too difficult to handle, and those that most definitely require a professional. If you’re one of those who thinks you’re a DIY jack-of-all-trades, look away now…

Don’t Get Wired On Electrics

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Anything electrical in your home that requires attention is best left untouched. Not only do you skirt with the obvious risk of electrocuting yourself, meddling with the wires behind that dodgy plug socket could wreak havoc on your home’s entire wiring. The appeal of deciding to fix a light fitting without the costly expense of calling in a professional may seem alluring, but just think about the potential spiralling costs in the event you botch it up and need to find a professional electrician to rewire your whole home. Bottom line: Don’t fiddle with electrics.

Electrician expert wiring plug socket
Leave electrics to the expert

Different Strokes

Moving on to something a little safer, there’s nothing wrong with attempting painting inside your home. Obviously there’s more to it than simply taking a pot of paint to your walls, but it’s certainly one of the more ‘doable’ DIY projects. As Interior specialist Gemma Cheney writes in the Guardian, there are tricks to adding a professional touch to your painting: “preparation is everything”. For ease and for covering a larger area, a roller is probably best, but for the more intricate jobs, a paintbrush is more ideal. The beauty of it all is that even if you do somehow manage to make a hash of it, you can always hire a painter and decorator to save the day.

Painting DIY indoors property
Unleash your inner painter

Avoid the Waterworks

When it comes to plumbing, there are a handful of simple jobs that do not require a plumbing service: a leaky tap, installing a new shower head or unclogging a drain are all perfect and scalable jobs to keep you occupied at the weekends. However, the more complex tasks will require a professional plumber. Much like trying to fix a problematic wire, fiddling with your home’s plumbing could have disastrous consequences that could leave you more out of pocket to fix than if you called the plumber in the first place. Moving away from the job at hand, hiring a plumber has other benefits. He or she will help you stay within your planned budget and will likely get the job done within your envisioned timeline.

Plumbing expert DIY
Time to call in the Plumber?

Take it Outside

Of course, DIY isn’t just contained to your home; the garden represents a wide range of DIY jobs you can do yourself, from mowing the lawn and painting the fence, to the more difficult bricklaying or pond installation. You may laugh, but there is a method to mowing the perfect lawn, but it’s probably not worth calling in the man. However, installing that nice, new water feature or building a new shed is probably better left to the professional – Bark can help you find local Bricklayers if you need them. Regardless of perfecting the bricklaying when building a new shed, there are also legal complication such as obtaining planning permission that a professional will know inside out and offer guidance. On top of all that, there’s the slight issue of landscaping. We’d all love a garden that wouldn’t look out of place at the Chelsea Flower Show, but left to your own devices you could just as likely end up with the garden from hell. Again, probably best to hire a landscaper for that major redesign.

landscaping gardening expert DIY
Shaping your dream garden

Inspired to Do It Yourself? Consider calling in a local professional first. Bark.com has a wide range of house and home services to help spruce up your property.

For more Bark.com tips and insight, why not check out our other blogs?

Skillpages is now Bark.com! – FAQs

Have you heard? Skillpages has been acquired by Bark.com!

But what does this mean for you, and your Skillpages/Bark account? If you have a query in relation to Skillpages or Bark, please review our FAQs below.

Q. I’ve forgotten my Password. Please can you help?

A. If you are a seller and would like to find out your password, enter your email address here and we will send you a link to reset your password. If you are a buyer, click here.

If you are a UK Skillpages user and have not claimed your profile, doing so will register you with Bark for free. Once you claim your profile, a new password will be issued.

For non-UK Skillpages users, we are working hard to expand our service. If you wish to delete your account, just let us know.

Q. I am looking for a local service and have come across Bark.com. How do I use your service?

A. Bark is the best way to find local services and also a great way for local service providers to grow their business. If you are looking for a local service, just head to bark.com and request a service you need and where you need it. We will then match you with the most relevant local service provider.

If you are a local business and interested in becoming a local service provider, head to our website and register for free. When a customer requests a service relevant to your business, we will alert you.

Q. I am interested in becoming a Bark seller. How do I go about this?

A. It’s great to hear that you’re interested in becoming a seller with Bark.com. Registration is free, just head to our website and create an account.

Q. How do I delete my Skillpages account?

A. We’re sorry to hear that you want to delete your Skillpages account. Please send us either your registered Skillpages email address, or a link to your Skillpages profile on Bark to team@bark.com, stating that you’d like to delete your account, and we will delete your account for you.

We shall be in touch to confirm account deletion.

Q. I cannot log-in to my account. Please can you help?

A. If you are a UK Skillpages user and have not claimed your profile, doing so will register you with Bark. Once you claim your profile, a new password will be issued.

If you’re in the UK and have already claimed your Skillpages profile you can reset your password here.

Q. What’s happened to my Skillpages page?

A. All Skillpages profile pages have been migrated to Bark.com and are still visible. UK users can upgrade for free to a Bark.com account and begin receiving leads.

We’re working on extending this functionality to non-UK users.

Q. When will Skillpages/Bark be available in my country?

A. We are active in the UK currently but we are working hard to expand in the future. We will contact relevant Skillpages users when Bark comes available in their territory

Q. What happened to Skillpages, and why is it now called Bark?

A. We are pleased to announce that Skillpages has been acquired by Bark.com!

Q. Is my profile still safe?

A. Yes. All of your data from your Skillpages account is safe and will be transferred to Bark.com.

Q. I live outside the UK would like to use Bark

A. We are currently operating in the UK but are working hard to open up new territories in the future.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Bark team via:

Phone: +44 207 117 2656

Email: contact@bark.com

Twitter: @BarkTeam

Facebook: Bark.com

 

Nick Hewer teams up with Bark

Following his recent exit from the Apprentice, Nick Hewer has been helping us get our message out there!

Nick’s produced a couple of videos for us in his own unique style – explaining to both buyers and sellers alike how to get the most out of Bark.

Nick, who has a background running his own PR firm, loves Bark and commented:

‘I’m really excited about working with Bark and am looking forward to the journey ahead’

Check out the videos here:

Hope you like them!

Bark reaches 10,000 suppliers!

I’m really pleased to say we’ve hit 10,000 suppliers today registered on Bark!

That’s a great achievement for us and we are proud to be helping some many small companies get more business – without charging them a penny! Bark is working and working well – we are starting to make a real difference to how people find local service providers and are looking forward to continuing on our mission to take the pain out of getting quotes and finding skilled professionals online. list of domains .

Bark Organises its New Year’s Eve party…using Bark!

They say eat your own toffee…and that’s exactly what we did when I decided, on the morning of December 31st that it would be nice to hold a new year’s party for the Bark crew. Those who know me will know that I take my parties very seriously and whilst I’m always last minute I had some doubt that this could be pulled off in time – especially considering I had a full day’s work planned.

I needed: a catering company to do a buffet dinner and serve drinks, a DJ to light up the room and get the party going and a comedian to entertain everyone. I started with the catering a called a couple of people I found on Google but the only available one was a company specialising in Jamaican cuisine and the woman I spoke to barely spoke English – accept to keep saying ‘Jerk Chicken any way you want’.

I was about to give up especially when my ever sensible co-founder Kai got the hump and said don’t you dare spend all day organizing a party, we can just go to the pub. But then one of our engineers said ‘Why don’t you just Bark it’ – and I had a why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moment – a bit like when you spend half an hour looking for your wallet only to find it in your pocket. Of course that’s exactly what Bark is for – so I did 3 Barks – for a DJ, caterer and comedian and marked them all as URGENT – FOR TONIGHT, and then got on with my meetings.

A couple of hours later – and we’d got a better response than we’d ever hoped for. I had 5 pitches for each job – many of them from quality suppliers who had had last minute cancellations and most of them from the principal of the company concerned. We got a super cool DJ from Capital DJ Services, amazing food from the team at Chef in my Kitchen and a brilliant comedian who made everyone laugh all night.

Needless to say the team has the worst hangover the next day and we loved the fact that our whole party was organised on Bark – even more so given that we probably wouldn’t have had time to organise it otherwise!