Customer experience is everything, throughout every part of the sales journey and beyond. In fact, 86% of customers have stopped doing business with a company because of a bad experience. Even your most loyal customers could be just one negative experience away from switching to a competitor.
Managing and exceeding customer expectations is crucial to building authority and sustaining lasting relationships. No matter where a current or potential customer interacts with your company, it must be a top priority to ensure they have a cohesive, personalized, and positive experience across all platforms.
Often, the customer journey begins before your frontline staff ever has a chance to make an impression. According to our 2021 Local Search Consumer Behavior Study, 83% of consumers use Google Search to learn more about nearby businesses, and 90% make a purchase within a week of their initial search.
What they find in those online searches is essential, with 84% reporting that they expect the information on a brand’s website and Google Business Profile listing to be accurate and up to date.
The phrase “the customer is always right” has stuck around for a reason. Although the meaning has changed over the years, it is still crucial to understand how customers will experience your brand online and cultivate the most effective ways to reach and interact with them. Here are some tips and insights on how to create an exceptional business listing customer service experience from that very first interaction in local search.
The Evolution of Customer Service
Technology has dramatically changed consumer expectations. They now expect proactive communications, rapid response times, and accurate information everywhere they’re finding your business. Brands and their customer service representatives are being challenged to provide exceptional customer service and the same great experience on multiple platforms.
Whether customers choose to communicate via social media, your website, by email, or through Google Business Profile Messaging, that experience needs to be flawless, well-informed, and personal to gain satisfied customers.
Customer service representatives and the teams that support them need to be adaptable to different customer requests and questions, which means actively listening while understanding and supporting customers’ needs. In any customer-facing role, your representative should also have in-depth industry knowledge to promote your brand as a reliable and trustworthy source. Even with brief and online conversations, a positive experience and interaction are essential and can make the difference between a one-time or a loyal customer.
On a positive note, technological innovations are making it possible for brands to tailor customer interactions, monitor for messages and new local reviews, and be responsive via local listings at scale.
Examples of Good Customer Experiences in Business Listings
A happy customer experience begins with quality and up-to-date information across sites, social media, and business listings, including your Google Business Profile. Ensuring that all possible attributes for your Google Business Profile are in use and accurate is more important than ever.
Utilizing factual attributes to best convey your business will help inform the customer about what they can expect from your company based on the amenities, service options, and health and safety standards you provide. Taking time to understand the subjective attributes that customers may assign to your business can help inform your marketing strategy and drive business success.
Another example of using business listings to provide exceptional customer service is using Google Posts to make locally relevant offers visible on your profile in search. According to McKinsey, 80% of customers want personalized recommendations. Ensuring you’re using geographically and locally relevant offers can help guide their buying decision. In addition, Google Posts are a great way to engage with your local community and let them know more about your brand, promotions, and upcoming events.
The Link Between Customer Service and Online Reviews
One significant component of the customer experience and how potential customers will assess your business is its reviews. Responding promptly to all customer reviews, positive and negative, will help build your brand’s authority and trust.
An online review is live for the world – and future customers – and shows how you respond to situations and how often you respond. Businesses should respond promptly with an engaging and empathetic response. It’s important for potential and current customers that you don’t simply copy and paste the same response to all customers, especially if it’s a negative review.
Quickly responding to customers goes beyond reviews. 73% of customers believe that swift responses and resolutions are a major component for evaluating customer service. So, whether customers are communicating through the Google Q&A, Google Messaging, social media, or your website, it’s vital that your brand and all of its locations provide clear, thoughtful, and quick communication. Using technology at scale to monitor and analyze reviews provides valuable customer feedback you can use across the business, as well.
Send a quick survey any time someone engages with your customer support specialists to ensure you’re providing excellent customer service during every interaction. A positive service experience should be captured to help showcase what your brand is excelling at. Similarly, any time a bad customer service response is captured, this gives your brand more clarity into where you can improve.
To ensure these tips are incorporated smoothly requires careful attention to standard operating procedures for all those managing customer service points and creating consistent experiences, whether they’re responding to customer reviews or answering questions on social media.
Business Listings Best Practices for Improving Customer Experience
Don’t miss out on these opportunities to provide exceptional customer experiences via your local search presence.
1. Claim and control all local listings.
One significant way to take back and maximize your local listings is to claim and verify all location Google Business Profiles. It’s important to begin your local listing journey there and create one if you haven’t done so yet, or make sure it is up-to-date. Additionally, it’s vital to incorporate monitoring local listings into your marketing strategy.
Google Business Profiles provide a single source of truth for all location data so that your listings in the Map Pack are accurate and up to date.
2. Use Google Messaging – if it can be monitored at scale.
Google Messaging gives customers the ability to reach out to your business to ask questions about your products or services. This can be a quick relationship-building method to connect with potential and current customers. But, it’s important to do it the right way.
Since numerous professionals in your company will have the ability to respond, there must be a standard operating procedure including brand voice and tone while also following the Google business guidelines. You don’t want to inadvertently create a poor experience by setting an expectation that the customer can message, then not responding.
If you’re working with franchisees who own their marketing responsibilities or otherwise cannot ensure a response to messages within 24 hours, wait to set up messaging until you can do so.
3. Optimize all available fields in your Google Business Profile.
It might be time-consuming at first, but it’s valuable to thoroughly go through the process of filling out your Google Business Profile. One reason to do so is that Google may suspend your Google Business Profile if the information is incorrect or violates their guidelines. Using a local listings solution like Rio SEO can make quicker work of this initial optimization and help monitor for inaccuracies in the future.
Additionally, Google Business Profiles hold key information and advertising opportunities such as location information, including hours, a Q&A section, messaging, and reviews that, if complete, can help build brand awareness and trust in the local community.
4. Use Special Hours and More Hours to keep hours of operation accurate.
The special and more hours options on Google’s Business Profile makes it easy to notify potential and loyal customer when your business is actually open. Nothing’s worse than being excited to check out a new brand or company and getting there only to discover their online hours are wrong and they aren’t open.
It’s essential to ensure your listings never direct a consumer in their moment of need to a closed store. More than that, if customers are searching for locations near them open right now and your hours incorrectly say the location is closed, the listing won’t appear at all.
Your hours must be accurate and reflect your current business hours, even during holidays, and include special hours such as online service hours or pickup hours if they apply.
Example of More Hours on a listing
5. Use high-quality images and video to help customers understand the type of experience they can expect at each location.
When selecting images and videos for your local listings, make sure they meet Google’s guidelines. For pictures, make sure that they have a clear, unique, centered image absent of added text. Avoid generic stock images that don’t give searchers an accurate idea of what they might experience at that location.
Videos need to be high-quality, short, and well thought out. Google provides a clear list of what they would like to see to help you cultivate content for your listing, including exterior photos, interior photos, and product images. You can find that here.
Keep the images and videos up-to-date and monitor the pictures customers upload to make sure they are not too blurry and represent the images you want on your listing; if not, you can request to have them removed.
6. Use Google Posts to share special offers, events, and timely information.
As mentioned earlier, Google Posts are great for marketing and connecting with new and existing customers in their local community. In addition, consistent Google Posts help make the listing more prominent in Google searches, increasing their visibility.
One thing to consider with Google Posts is to create a strategy to monitor them after you’ve posted them. It’s essential to remove outdated Posts as part of your workflow where information may have changed or is no longer relevant, so customers aren’t confused by incorrect information.
7. Equip local managers, marketers, and your customer success team with software to facilitate listings management.
It’s crucial that you have permissions in place and constantly monitor for inconsistencies, remove outdated information, read and respond to new reviews, and communicate new information to connect and engage consumers. It takes a robust technology system, policy and protocols to do this at scale. Incorporating these capabilities into your business strategy to ensure consistency across listings is essential.
Local listings allow customers to compare a product or service and figure out their hours, chat with the business, see reviews, and find the latest promotions all through in one simple location. As a result, companies have to evolve to where customers seek information, keep business location name, description, address, and hours current, and promptly respond to reviews, questions, and online chats.
Quality customer service with accurate up-to-date information can put your business ahead of the rest. If you want to analyze your current listings, check out our free local audit to help evaluate your search presence.