Last updated 12 hours ago
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton
As a business owner, you know that attracting prospects and turning them into customers is the lifeblood of any company. But have you ever thought about why someone would choose a competitor over you? If you’ve ever lost a prospect to a competitor (it happens to the best of them), there are several likely culprits. Check out five reasons you’re losing business to your competitors and what you can do to win back the hearts of your prospects.
1. Poor Search Rankings
Do you know which search terms your prospects use to find local businesses like yours on popular search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo? Are you landing on the first page of these search engines after a prospect types in a search term? If you don’t know which search terms to use for your industry in order to be found online, or if your competitors rank higher on a search engine page than you, you’re probably losing business to your competition. That’s because most consumers don’t look at search results past a search engine’s first page. And, according to BIA Kelsey and ConStat, 97% of consumers use online media to shop locally. The best strategy to high search engine rankings uses both organic search engine optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click campaigns. So make sure you have an online strategy in place so you can be found in search engine results before prospects find your competitors.
2. Poor Online Reputation
Do you know what people are saying about you and your business online? Do you know how your reputation compares to your competitors? Managing your online reputation is critical in today’s connected world. That’s because prospects will often check online review sites and your social media pages as part of their research during the buying process. In fact, 90% of respondents in a 2013 survey said online reviews influenced their buying decisions. No matter how good your products or services are, if past customers have left negative online reviews or posted negative comments on your social media pages, you’re most likely losing business to your competitors. The good news is that there are proactive strategies you can use to address poor online reviews and negative comments on social media. And, you can work to build a positive reputation online to help provide a more balanced view of your company. There are also services that can save you time by monitoring your online reputation for you.
3. Website Quality/Features
Your website is your calling card to the world. It’s often the first place prospects visit to learn more about you and your business. But if your website has poor design, lacks crucial information like an easy-to-find phone number, or is difficult to navigate, your prospects will simply leave your site to check out competitor websites. There are many features you can add to your website to help make it more appealing and helpful to your prospects – features that can help convert a prospect into a customer. The time and money you invest to ensure your website is the best it can be will pay off by attracting and keeping your visitors on your site, which in turn can lead to new business.
4. Slow Response Times
When prospects contact multiple companies via an online contact form or leave messages after business hours, you want to be the first business to follow up. That’s because up to half of all sales goes to the company who contacts the prospect back first. Your prospect is a warm lead because they have already reached out to you either online or over the phone. So don’t waste this opportunity to win new business simply due to a slow response time. By being the first one to follow up with your prospects, you’re demonstrating that you’re proactive and professional. It’s your opportunity to establish rapport, answer their questions, and perhaps even set an appointment or schedule a visit.
5. Customer Service
A brand loyalty survey by ClickFox noted that 56% of respondents said their “first purchase or first customer service interaction with a brand” is the deciding factor in determining long-term brand loyalty. Quality customer service is essential at both the prospect stage as well as the customer stage. Think about yourself as the customer of other businesses and the interactions you’ve had. How were you treated? If you called a company, did the person speaking sound professional and courteous? If you visited a business, were you greeted warmly and given the attention you needed? If you contacted a company by email, did you receive a prompt and articulate response? These are just a few examples where excellent customer service comes into play in the earliest stages of the sales cycle. If you’re providing poor customer service to your prospects, they’re more likely to take their business to your competitors. So take the time to do an honest assessment of how prospects are being treated once they contact you. If you can win a prospect’s heart early on, you have a better chance of converting them into a customer later on.
What strategies do you use to attract new prospects to your business? Let us know in the comments section.
About the Author
Amy Neeley helps small- and medium-size businesses navigate the online marketing world with insights and information featured on the ReachLocal blog.
Last updated 2 days 9 hours ago
Your online reputation helps build a strong foundation when it comes to potential customers choosing your business over competitors. In fact, according to one survey, 88% of respondents’ purchasing decisions were affected by the positive or negative reviews they read. But if you aren’t doing everything you can to ensure that what’s being said about you online is positive, then you could possibly upset potential customers before they even get to experience your business for themselves.
Here are four telling signs that you need to take a hard look at your business’ reputation before it’s too late.
You haven’t addressed customers’ questions or comments online, ever.
Hopefully, this isn’t the case for your business, and you have addressed critical issues in the past. But in order to maintain a good reputation for your business, you should at least try to acknowledge comments and questions as soon as you see them online, even if you don’t have a complete resolution. A recent survey indicates that of consumers who leave comments for businesses online, 42% expect to get a response at least within an hour. So, in order to show these customers that you are listening, consider setting up alerts for your business name and critical keywords like “complaints” and “reviews” so that you are up to date on any new mentions that matter for your reputation.
You address your online feedback, but you’re never to blame.
Chances are if nearly every comment about your business online is negative, blaming customers for their own negative experience will only result in more negative feedback, and very bad PR. There are many examples of business owners who cyber-attacked reviewers who by all means had legitimate frustrations about the business, on online review sites. These attempts at justifying bad customer service and bad business practices resulted in more negative reviews from people who would likely never become a customer. So if there’s one thing you should remember about these incidents, it’s that you can’t erase what you write online. The lesson to be learned here is to keep your cool when you see negative reviews, and respond only when you can do so with professionalism and a clear head.
You have a lot of one-time customers.
There are different reasons why customers may do business with you once and not return: for example, if they aren’t from your local area. But if your business doesn’t have loyal customers, then you might have a larger issue at hand. As a business owner, you might not always know the various problems your business is having. But by inspecting your online reputation, you may be able to identify problems that you didn’t know existed. Maybe your online advertisements are dated, creating a false representation of your business. Perhaps your customer service is not up to par. Whatever the case may be, customers are very likely to share negative experiences online, so make sure you know what they are saying and do what you can to fix it.
You have one mad customer whose goal in life is to bring you down.
The saying “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch” can often be applicable to your online reputation. And if you have that one unhappy customer who consistently rants about you online, then you probably understand the phrase a little better. While their continuous complaints may stem from actual problems, the fact that they continue to scorn you online may be a sign that they just really want to be heard. If you have a reviewer like this, ask about the details of their experience and do your best to right the wrong. If anything, this will show other potential customers that you are listening and attempting to make up for any less-than-satisfactory experiences. And remember, while a timely response is important, a professional response is critical.
Have you dealt with any of these situations? What did you do to resolve them? Let us know in a comment!
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About the Author
Tara Banda writes about how small business owners can reach local customers through online marketing for the ReachLocal blog. You can connect with her on Twitter.
Last updated 3 days ago
What do all of your social media fans and followers have in common? They follow you on your social media sites. Aside from that, your social media fans can range dramatically – from the fans who like, retweet, or repin every one of your updates seconds after you post it to the angry “fans” who follow you only to share their bad customer experience.
However, by understanding the different types of consumers on social media, you can determine the best type of engaging content to post in order to get them to take action and share your content. This infographic features seven of the most common types of fans, and what they mean for your business on social media.
What types of social media fans do you have, and what kind of content do they like the most? Let us know in a comment!
About the Author:
Tara Banda writes about how small business owners can reach local customers through online marketing for the ReachLocal blog. You can connect with her on Twitter.
Last updated 9 days ago
As much as every business would love for each of its customers to have an excellent experience each time they do business with them, in the real world, that’s not always how it works. Even the best brands and businesses have customers who, from time to time, have a less-than-positive experience – for a variety of reasons. So, here are seven tips for how to recover when a customer has a bad experience with your business.
1) Address the Complaint Quickly
Today, a customer may complain at the time of service or wait to make a phone call or email the business. Whenever and however a customer contacts you about a negative customer experience, it’s important to resolve their issue directly and as quickly as possible, for a number of reasons. First, you want the customer to know you care about their business and want them to return, so being quick to resolve their problems helps them feel more positive about your company while they are most concerned about their experience. Also, quickly resolving customer issues is critical in helping keep negative reviews about your company from showing up online. That’s because often, customers turn to review sites, social media outlets, or even blogs to express their frustration about a bad customer experience. So, not only does quickly resolving their issues help make the customer happier – it can also help nip negative reviews in the bud, protecting your online reputation.
2) Identify the Root of their Complaint
When a customer complains about a bad experience, they may mention a variety of issues when they speak with you. They may wander off topic and also share about their overall bad day, or an awful experience with a competitor, or anything else that’s on their mind. But, it’s important to respectfully listen to what they have to say, paying careful attention to the specifics they mention pertaining to your business. Did you miss your appointment window? Were your products or services below the level of quality the customer anticipated? Were they overcharged for their purchase? Did your staff or partners provide poor customer service? There are many potential issues that can arise, but it’s important to identify the root of the problem so you can respond to their specific issue and not just offer a blanket response to any and all complaints.
3) Offer a Resolution Immediately
If a customer is unhappy with your products or services, try to solve their problem and make sure their anger is resolved as soon as you hear about it, before they ever leave your business or, for service companies, before you leave them. The longer it takes for their issue to be resolved, the more upset they are likely to become. To make sure you can consistently offer immediate resolutions to customer complaints, create a system, procedure, or policy for each of the different types of bad customer experiences your business has faced so that you’ll have a go-to way to handle issues as soon as they arise.
4) Take Responsibility for their Experience
Is every customer complaint your fault? Probably not, but it’s important to take responsibility for whatever contribution you have had in the issue. Don’t blame the customer, because that is likely only going to make them more upset. Instead, identify the parts of the issue that your business played a part in, and let the customer know you are aware of your responsibility in the matter.
5) Offer a Heartfelt Apology
Next, make sure to apologize for the customer’s bad experience. Be sincere and genuine, and stay professional in your response. Let the customer know you appreciate their business and are sorry for any inconvenience caused. Don’t be snarky, frustrated, or terse in your conversation with the customer. Instead, put yourself in their shoes and let them know you care. A heartfelt apology can go a long way in helping ameliorate any animosity the customer may have and in keeping a negative review at bay.
6) Provide a Tangible Resolution
In most cases, an apology alone, while nice, is not enough to truly recover from a bad customer experience. In order to fully resolve the issue with the customer, it’s usually best to offer a tangible resolution. For example, many businesses offer a discount, refund, or complimentary future product or service package, depending on the severity of the issue. If your business has caused harm to a customer or their property in some way, you may need to seek expert counsel on how to resolve the issue to avoid potential legal action.
7) Empower Your Team to Resolve Bad Experiences
“May I speak with a manager?” This is often one of the telltale questions that a customer has a complaint about your business. But often, the chain of command, authority, and approvals to get customer complaints resolved can make the process take more time and ultimately make the customer feel more frustrated instead of pleased at the outcome. So, to the best of your ability, empower your team to be a part of the complaint resolution process so that issues are handled at the front line instead of having to escalate them up for a true resolution. Of course, some situations are more severe than others, and due to the varying nature of customer complaints, they are ultimately handled on a case-by-case basis. But by getting your entire team trained on how to provide great customer service and finding consistent resolutions you can offer for the most common customer complaints, you can help reduce the number of customer complaints that you or your management has to deal with – and help ensure that your customers are happier as well.
How does your business handle customer complaints? Do you have a system or process in place to address bad customer experiences? What do you expect from businesses when you have a poor experience?
Share your thoughts in a comment!
Need help overcoming negative reviews customers have posted about your business online after a bad customer experience? Get our free ebook to learn how.
About the Author
Tiffany Monhollon shares practical tips and insights about reaching consumers across the web as a blogger for ReachLocal. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.
Last updated 10 days ago
Getting a searcher to visit your website or landing page is only half the battle when it comes to search engine advertising. Once someone visits your site, you now have to incent them to contact you. From a marketing standpoint, this means converting them from a prospect to a lead, and from a lead to a customer. But, this isn’t always easy, nor is it a single-step process. In fact, conversion requires some time and effort on your part to optimize your site to drive contacts, track your results, and follow up with your best leads so they buy from you. Whether you are trying to get more calls or close more business, the following website tactics and marketing technologies will surely improve your search advertising ROI.
1. Conversion-Optimized Landing Page
Did you know that your landing page is a vital component of your search advertising campaign? It’s probably more important than you realize. Creating a specific landing page for your search advertising campaigns – especially if you are running multiple ad groups – can help you improve your quality score while improving the customer experience, because the language on your landing page will match the content of your text ad and the keywords you are bidding on. It’s also an easy way to test different landing page elements without having to re-engineer any parts of your website.
Whether you decide to create a campaign-specific landing page or send searchers to an existing page on your website, the end goal is always the same: to get a conversion from the visitor. This means either a phone call – which is probably the most common and highly sought after type of conversion – a form submission, an email, or some other action you want the visitor to take. There are many ways to design and architect an effective landing page, but it should always include a prominent phone number, a clear call to action, and a strong value proposition that guides the visitor toward contacting you.
2. Mobile Website
Still think you can get by with just the desktop version of your website? It may be time to rethink that stance. Today, 84% more Web traffic comes from mobile devices than it did just a year ago. According to the Mobile Path to Purchase study by Nielsen, nearly half of consumers rely exclusively on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet to conduct research about a product or service they were intending to purchase. And, 74% of smartphone-related purchases are completed offline, with 1/3 of smartphone users looking specifically for a business’ phone number or location on their device. So, it’s important to have a mobile-optimized site that provides accessible information about your business like a click-to-call number, map, hours, and product and service information to help mobile searchers to not only find you, but to contact you easily.
3. Live Chat
Live chat is a simple yet effective technology you can use to capture contacts from your website visitors. In addition to offering a contact number or email address, providing a live chat option can help you capture information from prospects who visit you after business hours or who prefer not to call you. Live chat, unlike a phone number or email address, proactively prompts the visitor to contact you, so they may be more willing to engage with the chat agent, spend more time on your website and potentially provide their contact information for a follow up from you.
One of the most important features your website needs is a way to track visitor activity, so you can tie actual leads and sales back to your marketing tactics. This helps you determine the ROI of your marketing so you know what methods work the best for your business, and where you may be losing money. There are many ways to track search campaign results, but one of the most important for small business is call tracking, since a phone call is one of the central goals of your site.
You can implement call tracking technology that records the calls made from your website, including caller details, so you can determine which marketing tactic brought them to your site, create a contact list, classify contacts as leads or customers, and follow up with them so you can close more sales from website visitors. You can additionally track emails, form submissions, and completed Web chats to more accurately determine marketing ROI.
5. Lead Management & Nurturing
Getting a lot of calls from your site, but from prospects that aren’t ready to buy? Using an automated lead management system is an effective way to remind customers of your business after their first interaction with you. If you’re too busy to look at your contact list on a regular basis – like many small business owners and marketing managers – you can invest in technology that delivers alerts to your email or smartphone that remind you to reach back out to leads who have recently contacted you. You can additionally use a lead nurturing system that sends a series of automated emails to your leads. These emails would contain information about your products and services, industry tips, or special offers that encourage them to choose to buy from you.
In what other ways are you using your website to increase conversions from your online prospects? Stay tuned for the final part of our series to discover which additional marketing tactics are the best for boosting your search advertising results.
3 Compelling Reasons You Need a Lead Management Process
10 Essentials Every Small Business Website Needs
Does Your Business’ Mobile Web Presence Measure Up?
About the Author
Tamara Weintraub helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media, and content marketing as a writer for the ReachLocal blog.