Your business hinges upon one major thing: customers. Customers are the most untapped resource for small businesses and can act as brand ambassadors or detractors, who can lead or scare away new business. If you have been in business at all and have had at least one customer, you need to care about customer experience and how to manage it in the future.
The customer, happy or disgusted, wants their voice to be heard. With the ever-present social media platforms giving rise to reviews, boycotts, and hashtag campaigns, it is important to keep a vigilant eye on your brand and what is being said about it.
You have probably heard about Yelp, Google My Business, Bing Places, BBB, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor, and Yellow Pages as review websites, but do you realize that you can claim your business on these pages and use it to keep track of and respond to reviews? All of these sites give a voice to the reviewer and also offer an opportunity for your businesses and potential customers. Generation C, the connected consumer, is constantly doing their research before they make a large purchase, go to a restaurant, or plans a trip. How many customers have you lost because a potential customer saw a negative review about your business? The truth is, you will never know.
- Claim your business on these sites. This allows you to take control of your business and see what matters to your customers.
- Don’t forget social media! Reviews live on social media too. Have you looked at the reviews on your Facebook Business page or looked at the reviews of your competition? This is free data that you can use to improve your business.
- Respond to positive and negative reviews. You should not only act defensively. When someone praises your business, thank them. Making an already delighted customer feel appreciated can lead to them being a brand ambassador for your business and can continue positive word of mouth.
- No matter what, be the adult in the room. If someone says something mean or negative, remember to be the adult. Acknowledge their anger, and try to resolve it with communication away from the site…I am sorry that you had a bad experience. Please email us at…or call us at… so we can resolve the issue.
- Do not delete comments unless they contain profanity or threats of violence. Never delete someone’s comments, this is essentially censoring them and they will come back with an even louder voice. If you have to delete a comment that contains inappropriate language, post a comment saying that you will need to delete the comment due to language and that you will leave your comment up for 5 minutes in order for the original commenter to see it.
- Focus on customer satisfaction. What steps can you take to improve your current customer experience? Are you seeing similarities in the positive and negative reviews you have? If there is a shared positive or negative experience, use that information to make your service 5 STAR!
- Make your current customers feel special. Anytime you have the opportunity to do the little things for your customers, they will remember you when they need what you have to offer.
These websites, since they contain information regarding your name, address, menu, contact information, etc. they come up when potential customers search for businesses. This is off-site SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. By claiming your review sites and making sure they have accurate and keyword specific information, you are able to ensure that your customers can find you when they search on Google or Bing. The higher you rank and/or the more websites that pop up for your business during a keyword search, the higher the percentage of customer conversion. If they can find your business, they can go to your business.
Since review sites are updated whenever there is new content, it always has new content that can be searched based on the different keywords they use in their review. Since these sites also are searchable based on a specific location, it helps your local SEO. Think about the difference between searching for a Mexican Restaurant versus a Mexican Restaurant in Roanoke; there will be different results and the local reviews for Roanoke will pop up in the search.
As discussed earlier, social media reviews also offer stronger Social SEO through SMO (Social Media Optimization) results too. Audiences engage more and more through social media by liking, commenting, and sharing. One person’s review on Facebook can be shared and seen by thousands…letting potential customers know about your business and helping them decide whether or not they want to be your customer.
As a small business owner, it can be overwhelming with all of the ways the word of mouth exists nowadays. Word of mouth lives online now and can be the key opportunity to improve and grow your business. The key is to do what any business should always do: listen to the customer.