What We’ve Learned After 10,000 Responses
By Matt Murray - Founder/CEO
The Widewail team has spent the last seven months engaging with online reviewers across the country and we recently passed a huge milestone: 10,000 reviews responded to. To be fair, we passed that milestone a few weeks ago, but it’s taken me some time to reflect on what it means to us and what we’ve learned. These responses are much more than a simple thank you. Instead, we have meaningful conversations with customers and our clients while responding with SEO rich text to increase rankings. With thousands of reviews under our belt, we’ve learned a few things about online reputation.
Small Businesses Need and Deserve Support
Small businesses sometimes believe they can do it all, or worse, that they need to do it all. This simply isn’t true. With a small team and limited resources it’s impossible to manage every aspect of a business internally. Attempting to do so can lead to lower-quality products and service, along with staff burnout. This doesn’t mean you can’t reach all of your goals, you just need some help. Our clients repeatedly report how they appreciate the ease with which they can address online feedback with Widewail on their side. We’ve seen every type of comment or review out there - from the distraught parent who was late to pick their kiddo up from school because an oil change went long or the scheming, conniving deal-searcher who’s attempting to leverage social media just to “get a deal.” 10,000 responses have made us confident in our ability to provide sound guidance, regardless the situation, freeing our clients up to do what they do best.
2. People Want to Be Heard
Whether their feedback is positive or negative, customers ultimately want someone to listen, and they want them to listen well. A recent report found that 82% of customers surveyed would stop patronizing a business if they had a bad experience calling their customer service department. Of course, people aren’t just calling customer service lines. They are tweeting, blogging, and posting reviews online. These platforms provide an equally important opportunity to show your customers how much you value their feedback. Just as you would never sit back as your phones rang off the hook, you should never let online feedback go unanswered. Ultimately, your next customer is evaluating their potential experience by reading these exchanges. Online customer service is also a customer acquisition strategy. Be sure to put your best foot forward.
3. Customer Service is an Emerging Component of Digital Marketing
Our journey at Widewail started with the recognition that we could not only help our clients scale their customer service operations but we could, simultaneously, increase their local search ranking. Starting with Search Engine Journal leaning into the connection between reviews and SEO at the end of 2017 and continuing in 2018 with the Moz local search ranking factors, there is mounting evidence that online customer service is key to healthy organic search performance. Our own observations have shown us a consistent and sustained 30-50% increase in weekly Google My Business referral traffic to our clients’ websites after starting with us. This traffic, by the way, is the very best source a local business can find - bounce rates below 20%, conversion rates above 25% - without an associated cost per click. We’re moving traffic away from paid advertising, helping to ensure that the paid clicks are ones that really need to be paid for.
This makes real sense. Google has 90% search market share and no interest in giving any of it back to Bing et al. To maintain that kind of share, attention to detail is key. If a searcher performs a local search like “oil change, Boston” and follows Google’s advice to visit the business that ranked best, they expect a good experience. If their in-store experience is sub-par, some of that disappointment is cast back on Google. So, Google is getting smart about its use of the massive amount of customer verbatims living on GMB pages. Reviews tell Google whether a business is “good” and Google uses that info to influence rankings.
4. Great Customer Service Can Solve Most Problems
We already know that 77% of consumers are likely to recommend a business if they’ve received great customer service. Still, mistakes happen and occasionally we let our customers down. In most cases, you have an opportunity to resolve the issue even after the customer has left your store. Proper follow-up, genuinely listening to criticism, and willingness to compromise can turn a bad situation into a positive one. Below is an example from one of our clients.
The review was left anonymously so we requested that the customer call our client’s General Sales Manager. Once they were connected, the GSM had the opportunity to set things right and, perhaps most importantly, demonstrate that he values the customer’s business. Although the customer was originally disappointed, their final interaction with the company was a positive one. This is what they will remember the next time they’re ready to buy.
5. Time to Resolution Must be a Priority
Possibly the most important aspect of customer service is timeliness. Over half of customers expect a response within a week, while 21% of customers expect a response within 24 hours. This fast-turnaround may seem demanding, but it’s likely the difference between resolving a customer’s complaint and losing their business forever.
This is one reason why it’s vital to be on top of your reviews. If you see a negative review from a month ago, reaching out to the customer won’t have nearly as strong of an impact as it would hours or even days after the review was posted. Monitoring all of your review sites is key to catching these issues early and not letting potential business slip through your fingers.
6. Online Reputation is Within Your Control
The best piece of advice we can share is that online reputation management is within the reach of all local businesses. We understand that it might be overwhelming. Review sites and social media provide nearly limitless opportunities for customers to interact with your business online. By utilizing the proper tools, you will be able to meet customers where they’re at and contribute to any conversation about your company. Widewail’s review monitoring and response service makes it simple to take control of your reputation and guide the narrative around your business.
10,000 reviews later and the Widewail team believes more than ever in the power of our product. We are looking forward to the next 10,000 reviews and continuing to assist local businesses in providing the best customer service possible.