Mistakes are critical to business growth. We learn the most when we’re faced with trickier problems and customer complaints that force us to get creative. Whether you’re a booming tech leader like Facebook or a local mom-and-pop, your team should always have an ear to the ground, accepting and encouraging feedback from happy and unhappy customers alike.
Below, we share just how customer criticism can transform and save your business.
You Hear Your Customers’ Wants First-hand
Maybe you talk to your customers all the time or, as is often the case, just when they’re dissatisfied. While these “negative” conversations can be daunting, they’re far more valuable for than the pleasant ones. Unhappy customers put growth opportunity on a serving platter. They tell you about their issue and often hint (or state outright) the outcome they would have preferred, whether it’s a product improvement, a service offering, better communication, or all of the above.
The more you hear this kind of feedback, the clearer your business’ holes become and the closer you are to plugging them. Just remember that many customers never complain. In fact, 96% of them don’t. The majority simply leave. So you have to ask for feedback and work toward building better customers who want to give it, otherwise you won’t hear the good, the bad, and the ugly until it’s too late.
You See Your Business in a New Light
You go to work every day and stare at a computer screen, run around helping customers, or checking off an endless and ever-growing to-do list. You start to form a routine. After some time, it’s easy to grow so close to the work that you put distance between yourself and your customers. You must make mental edits to your approach, especially if you want to grow business with customer service.
Criticism forces you to take a hard look at outdated and ineffective practices that may be causing trouble in your customer relationships. It gives you a chance to revamp the go-to techniques you use on a daily basis. Maybe your business hours are problematic for customers with full-time jobs, or you’re not offering a service in high demand. Your customers’ feedback can help point out the obvious but overlooked problems that need to be rectified.
Just Listening Boosts Customer Retention
Criticism isn’t always fun to hear, but it just might help you save a customer from leaving. When someone raises a complaint, start by empathizing. Let them know that you understand where they’re coming from and you’ll take the initiative to help. Wait for them to finish, then try repeating back what they just said so they know you’re listening.
That word is key: listen. Remind yourself that you need to listen, not just hear. Take notes if you want to, and attempt to come up with a solution right then and there or give them a clear, reasonable time that you’ll get back to them. If you offer a solution upfront, your customer is less likely to cut ties. And even if you can’t solve the problem right away, once your customer voices their issue they’ll be more invested in that future solution.
Feedback Can Ignite Action
Criticism can give you that little push you need to make a change. When your employees are constantly hearing similar feedback, that’s when you know it’s time to take action. Meet with your team and determine where the majority of complaints or problems arise and come up with a strategy to fix the issue. Making these feedback sessions a top priority adds credibility in the eyes of your customers and your employees.
That employee bit is key. If you run a business with customer-facing employees, they need to be following your lead and soliciting feedback regularly. Instill an attitude of proactive customer service company-wide and you’ll see a much bigger impact. Your team will begin paying more attention to customers’ needs as well as what’s best for the company.
If companies like Apple and Microsoft disregarded their customers’ feedback, they never would have made it to the top echelons of tech. Their products and services have adapted to changing consumer preferences and needs thanks to constant analysis and action. Though their consumer studies budget probably dwarfs a mid-sized company’s annual revenue, smaller operations can take small measures to start listening that open up a realm of possibilities for growth. Don’t forget that you are where you are because of your loyal customers, so take their criticism as a thank you to your business.
Have you gotten into your car after work when an instant traffic report for your commute home suddenly pops up on your phone? If this is not a phenomenon you’ve experienced yet, look for useful insights like these and many others to start showing up on your mobile device out of the blue.
It’s called geofencing, and studies show that this locally optimized approach to reaching customers boasts double the click through rate of normal mobile advertising. If you are a small business owner, you need to get on board with this marketing marvel right away. It’s an easy and affordable solution to engage your customers and grow your bottom line.
Why You Should Adopt a Geofencing Marketing Approach
First of all, with any new and emerging technology, you need to see the evidence to support the hype. Data drives decisions, and in this case, the numbers speak volumes.
60% of consumers look for local information on their mobile devices.
40% of consumers look for information while on the go.
70% of consumers are willing to share their location with you for something in return.
Secondary Action Rates–meaning people visit a store or take some other additional action after seeing an ad–are more than 2x as likely to occur with location-based marketing.
Home and trade services rank among the industries that receive the highest secondary action rates.
How Can This Location Data Help Me?
How can you use this exciting and versatile technology in your business? There are many ways you can use geofencing to help increase customer interactions, employee productivity, accountability, and profits, as well as keep your property and assets safe.
The first step is to develop a mobile app that supports this technology. From there, the possibilities are endless. Just look at what ground-breaking steps are being made within businesses who have begun to use geofencing.
North Face Uses Geofencing to Boost Sales with Creative Alerts
North Face is one of the big guns when it comes to outdoor apparel. One of the reasons the brand is so successful is because it’s not afraid to experiment with new technology.
The company recently experimented with geofencing as a means to lure customers to their stores by using push notifications about the weather. Their weather-based geofenced alerts have been quite successful. The company boasts a 79% increase in store visits from customers who receive the alerts, and 65% of those customers make purchases.
There’s a lot you can learn from the marketing team over at the North Face—even if your business is on a much smaller scale. First of all, studies suggest that when a user isn’t surfing the web on his or her phone, he or she is likely to spend 86% of smartphone time using apps.
Pay attention to how the big guys are playing the mobile game—there’s a lot to learn, and in a digital world, your small business can compete. More importantly, don’t ignore a powerful resource because you don’t understand it—learn what’s new, and learn how to apply it to your business.
BMW Uses Geofencing to Offer Quality Customer Service
BMW has also employed geofencing into their mobile business plan—in a rather different manner than most. Where most companies are using geofencing as a tool for garnering consumer attention with flashy promotions, BMW’s use is a little more pragmatic.
BMW incorporates geofencing in their BMW Trackstar and BMW Trackstar Advance services. After the activation of this service, your car’s position is pinpointed every 20 seconds. If the car is moved without the use of its keys, and the car moves out of a designated geofence, it will notify BMW who will then reach out to the car’s owner.
Again, as a small business owner, you can learn a lot from BMW with regard to the customer service potentials of a geofence. You may not have the theft of an expensive car to worry about in your business, but you do have customers who need product protection, communication, and reliability. With about 90% of customers expecting some sort of self-service customer support, investing in the right solution will place your brand in your customers’ good graces.
Walgreens Uses Geofencing as a Means of Customer Retention
Walgreens is using mobile marketing as a way to build trust and eventually promote brand loyalty in its customers through geofencing. Whenever a customer pulls into a fenced location a notification allows the user to open the app without having to look for it. After that, customers can scroll through their account details or view promotional offers.
Clearly the data shows that loyalty programs are a must for today’s consumers. Your business can mirror Walgreen’s direction when you add a geofence to your mobile app.
This specific approach to mobile marketing gives the user an experience of exactly “what they want when they want it” which is a hard feat to achieve in marketing. Service without interruption promotes customer loyalty.
Uber Uses Geofencing for Proactivity
Following the lead of tech-giants around the world, Uber has also delved into using geofences. Uber uses geofences at Los Angeles International airport so that when users arrive at the airport they are notified about the number of cars available to meet their needs. This allows geofences to serve as a means of providing proactive customer services.
If you are in the travel niche, you can learn a lot from Uber’s proactive approach to catering to potential consumers. But, even if you are not in the travel businesses, thinking about ways to let your customers know you have what they need when they need it most is a great way to use the geofencing capabilities of your business’ mobile app.
It’s important to note that 82% of businesses see quality information as the most important component of a customer’s experience. That means that your competitors are looking for ways to provide clients with the information they need. You need to stay competitive, and a lesson from Uber’s proactive geofences can certainly put you ahead of your competitors.
Honeywell’s Geofencing Approach to Going Green
Honeywell’s Lyric is a smart thermostat that uses geofencing to detect the presence of people in the room. It turns the heat on and off depending upon the presence of people in an area so that power can be saved.
People want to make the world a better place. There’s no better way to bring your brand into the limelight than aligning it with a noble cause that does just that—especially since 95% of students say they are less likely to ignore ads or promotions that show a brand’s relationship with a good cause.
If you can set up a geofence to bolster your cause, your business is certain to reap the marketing benefits—and so will your cause.
American Eagle’s Geofencing Marketing Endeavors
American Eagle set its sights on foot traffic to boost sales at its outlet stores. The clothing giant sent customers who entered geofenced outlet mall parking lot notifications and promotions. The incentives led customers into the door of American Eagle vs. its competitors. The result was a threefold increase in purchases.
As a business owner, you can learn from American Eagle’s success in sending push notifications. If you own a brick in mortar store, an incentive when people are in the vicinity is certain to remind them of something they need or want–let them know you have it when they are close. If American Eagle’s efforts show you anything, it is that paired with the right location, technology can minimize marketing legwork while maximizing customers’ responses—thus making marketing campaigns that much more effective.
Simply put, use the data to track your users’ behaviors. Then, build the right type of geofenced marketing campaign, and let your app do the work for you. The data shows it works.
Taco Bell Reaches the Right Crowd with Its Geofence
Taco Bell’s app is a crucial tool in their geofencing marketing plan. Its mobile ordering feature entices users to download it. With the app in place, hungry customers can order from their phones and then simply go pick up their food—no wait.
After consumers have downloaded the app, the restaurant utilizes geofencing as a way of targeting people under 30 years old with push notifications whenever they are in the vicinity of a Taco Bell. A quick reminder that they can order food from their phone and pick it up two miles down the road was a great way to appeal to the “Want it Now” generation.
Marketing to the right crowd is business 101. With the right tools, your small business can send notifications to your customers without breaking the bank. All you need is a mobile app with geofencing capabilities.
In order to keep up with the times, the History Channel has also begun to utilize geofencing in its Foursquare Campaign. This ground breaking idea gives history buffs something they yearn for—historical facts. In order to connect with its viewers, the History Channel setup geofences, so when any user checks into a particular historical location on Foursquare – say the White House of the Eiffel Tower – he or she gets historical facts about the place. The campaign generated a surprising 400 million check-ins.
Again the brainiacs at the History Channel can teach you a lot more than history. As a business owner, you can copy their thinking and use geofences to provide strong competition to similar nearby businesses and attract their consumer base. You can setup your fences so that users going towards your competitors are notified about your businesses promotions so that you can lure customers away from the competition.
It is safe to say that geofencing is powerful and affordable way to reach consumers. As an SMB, your growing business can easily learn to keep up with the big brand competition. Simply paying attention to how their marketing gurus are adopting geofencing into their mobile marketing plans can give you great insights to what your business is capable of achieving.
Any affordable option is worth exploring, and when you build an app equipped with geofencing capabilities, you are setting yourself up to stay current and competitive.
Reputation management. You might be imagining a celebrity who needs to do damage control after sharing something inappropriate during an interview with TMZ. In reality, reputation management is crucial for any business, big or small. Even a company who doesn’t have a dedicated Reputation Manager is – or should be – engaging in reputation maintenance and amelioration on a daily basis.
So, what does reputation management for companies look like? In a nutshell, it means influencing and controlling a company’s reputation (shocker, right?). However, with the growth of the internet and social media, the notion of reputation management has transformed into online reputation management. The latter makes search results a core part of a company’s reputation, meaning you control what shows up when someone looks you up online.
An important piece of the online reputation management puzzle is online reviews. Online reviews are crucial to any business that wants to keep control of their online reputation. According to The Online Department, “Online reviews have created a new form of marketing and communication that bridges the gap between simple word-of-mouth and a viral form of feedback that can move virtual mountains for a business.” The importance of online reviews for businesses is truly mind boggling.
Why are reviews so important?
When it comes to word of mouth, online reviews have taken the spotlight. They are now the ultimate “word of mouth endorsement.” The stats speak for themselves:
Before we get into the importance of positive reviews, we should discuss why it is at all important to have reviews. In other words, what are the consequences of having no reviews? You might think that no reviews is better than bad reviews, but this is not always the case. Without reviews, people doing research on your company are lacking the evidence that you are a real brand that they can trust. Without a number of online reviews to your name, you are missing out on new business.
Imagine this: You own a restaurant. Someone is visiting the area and looking for a place to eat. They use their smartphone to determine which restaurants are available to them. The search results show yours and one other establishment on the same street. Your restaurant does not have a single review on Yelp, Google, Facebook or any other platform. The other restaurant has several 4 or 5 star reviews. In that moment, it does not matter that your restaurant has tastier food or better service, the customer will pick your competitor. Without reviews, your business lacks credibility and looks questionable. Prospective customers will wonder why there aren’t any reviews, thinking “Is this business not popular? Does no one know about it? Is it a bad restaurant?” Every time a potential customer comes across your business online – and 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business – you might be losing them to the competition.
While it’s important to have reviews in general, the impact positive reviews have on your business is astounding. Here’s the impact online reviews can have:
This is what it comes down to: online reviews will lead to increased profit. Reviews give customers the information that they need to make the decision to purchase a product or service from a business. Today’s consumer is highly informed, conducting their own in depth research before buying anything. Reviews are an important part of this research and can be the tipping point in decisions where there is little-perceived product differentiation. Again, imagine you are picking between two hair salons. If both salons offer the same services, fall around the same price point, and are in the same area, the reviews will be the tiebreaker. A consumer will almost always pick the establishment with better reviews as this is the differentiating factor between the two.
According to Dimensional Research, 90% of respondents who read online reviews are influenced by the reviews in their buying decision. Even more noteworthy is that for every $1 of online revenue influenced by reviews, that impact is multiplied offline by 4x or 5x.
Strengthen Customer Loyalty
Reviews go hand-in-hand with loyalty. Customers who take the time to leave a positive review for a business are far more likely to feel a certain loyalty to that business. There is a much higher chance that they will keep coming back. Think about the good reviews you have written on Yelp, as a customer. You probably frequent those places a lot more often than the ones you didn’t review. The act of leaving an online review establishes a relationship with the business, allowing customers to feel like they have a voice. Consumers want to be able to provide feedback in a meaningful way and know that their voices are heard by both the business and their peers. These reviews will then drive new prospects to your business, making it a tool for both customer acquisition and customer retention.
Improve SEO & Ranking
Online reviews work towards improving your website’s ranking on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Yelp and so on. The more that is written about your business online, the more important a search engine considers you to be. Besides moving up in ranking, you will also be featured in a wider array of keywords. With reviews coming in, your business website will have a steady influx of SEO keywords that help your business strengthen its online presence. These new keywords will help to bring up your website in search results when customers are looking for the type of product or service you sell. According to MOZ’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews are thought to make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results. Online reviews are as critical to your local SEO strategy as link building citations and on-site optimization.
Spark Brand Advocacy
If you’ve started collecting reviews, you will soon realize that they are worth a great deal in terms of marketing. Reviews can offer your business benefits that a simple marketing campaign just can’t, they keep working long after the review has been posted. It fosters continual brand awareness, with your customers taking the role of brand advocates. And it’s safe to say that if your customers left a positive public review, they might also be recommending your business offline to their network. Treat these customers well and recognize their efforts, as they are your personal brand influencers.
Better Serve Your Customers
Reviews can tell you where you are excelling and where you might need to improve. By being open to this feedback, your business will be able to better serve customers and adapt accordingly. This will create an even more positive experience, giving customers a sense that their voice is heard and taken seriously. In fact, 78 percent of consumers say that seeing management respond to online reviews makes them believe that the business cares more about them. It’s important to take all reviews into account. Some companies make the mistake of glorifying positive reviews while brushing off negative ones. Both, however, hold equal value and should be handled accordingly. More specifically, ReviewTrackers found that 52 percent of customers expect to hear back from brands within 7 days of writing an online review, particularly one that’s negative or critical.
How can you manage your brand’s reputation through reviews?
With AmobiApps’s newest product release small businesses are able to harness the power of positive reviews. Your branded mobile app will become even more powerful, being a consistent source of online reviews. So, how exactly does this reputation add-on work? With our mobile reviews campaign, app users will be prompted to review your business on the most popular online review sites, including Google, Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor. We ensure only the reviews with positive ratings get published, while you can directly handle the negative feedback as a business owner.
The customization component is what really sets our reputation management system apart. You can set up triggers to send review requests when the app users are experiencing a positive interaction with your brand. For instance, users may receive a prompt right after they redeem a reward or after they have enjoyed their meal. Based on a user’s actions within the app, you can determine when they are most likely to leave a positive review about your business.
Most companies send out emails asking for reviews days or even weeks after the customer’s purchase. By doing this, they are forcing customers to do the hard work of remembering the details of their last interaction with the brand, long after it has happened. According to Groove HQ, “we already know that customer loyalty is built on making your customers’ lives easier, and that principle extends to asking for reviews, too.” So, the best time to ask for a review is when the value that you’ve delivered to the customer is at the top of their mind. This makes it easy for them to recall what happened and write an honest review. The Reviews Campaign, then, allows you to send out review requests at the right time depending on your business.
Once you have set up your campaigns, sit back and watch the results come in. You can track metrics that matter, like total requests sent, total reviews received, and level of satisfaction. And if you have a franchise or multiple locations, you can set up and track performance for each location separately. Each Reviews Campaign will be tailored to reach the right people at the right time. As 72% of consumers will take action only after reading a positive review, this reputation management model will directly drive new business.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “app”? Do you think of a game? Something you can’t live without? Or simply a cool gadget on your phone?
Small business owners often shut down when they hear the word “app” being pitched. They, understandably, think there is no money or time to invest in an app ⎼ especially if they don’t even have any other online presence set up yet. Small businesses might see apps as just a gimmicky addition to their marketing portfolio.
But here’s the thing: an app might actually be the one thing that can help the business significantly grow. Why? Because an app is not just a mobile application; an app is a complete mobile marketing solution. If it is executed correctly, a small business will see a significant increase in revenue and customer engagement. Ultimately, this tool won’t be an extra expense, it will save the business a lot of money. How? An app, or mobile solution, can rethink a small business’ social presence, local presence, and mobile presence, as well as turn its best customers into marketers.
Busting The Myth
We have labeled it “ReThink”. More specifically, the Rethink Strategy redefines the way you think about customer experience, customer loyalty, customer advocacy and company ranking. This strategy will also allow small business owners to understand the benefits of a mobile solution.
The first step of the Rethink Strategy is to analyse which experiences would be better facilitated through a mobile solution. In other words, how can the customer experience be improved at a particular business?
Traditionally, companies have emphasized “touchpoints”, referring to the critical moments when customers interact with a brand during their purchasing process. However, a shift is taking place as successful companies focus on the customer journey in its entirety. According to Harvard Business Review’s research, “organizations able to skillfully manage the entire experience reap enormous rewards: enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction”. A mobile solution allows any business to move away from mere touch points and start addressing this customer journey as a whole.
For instance, a local restaurant might implement mobile food ordering. Customers now have the option to place an order with the tap of a button through an app. This translates into not having to wait in line, not having to make a phone call, and not needing to go through the hassle of paying at the establishment. As a result, the patrons are provided with a more pleasurable and convenient experience at the restaurant. So, instead of merely improving the “sales touchpoint” at the cash register, the small business is able to improve the entire encounter starting with the purchase process.
An improved customer experience, then, builds loyalty. The better the experience at the establishment, the more likely people are to return. And the way a small business deals with loyalty can also be rethought with a mobile solution.
Every business, whether a mom-and-pop shop or a global company, relies on loyal customers for success. Loyal customers account for 20% of a company’s customers. While that might not seem impressive at first glance, that 20% drives 80% of a business’s total revenue and 72% of total visits to the establishment. This data clearly shows that it is more profitable for businesses to go after customer retention than customer acquisition – however, many do the exact opposite. In fact, it costs 500% more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones.
For example, a salon can implement a mobile stamp card, rewarding customers with a free haircut when it’s complete. For the customer, this means no longer losing a physical punch card and carrying around 20 different rewards cards. Customers now feel that every purchase they make amounts to something bigger. This, again, contributes to a positive customer journey. As a result, rethinking (or implementing) the mobile loyalty strategy can increase repeat business.
Now that a loyal following has been built, a small business should empower their customers to spread the word. Through an app, customers can easily be prompted to share their opinion on social media, produce online reviews or send a referral.
We all know that people love to talk about things they love (and hate). So if they are a loyal and happy customer, it is important to make it as easy as possible for them to share their thoughts with others. Think of traditional word-of-mouth, as a happy customers tells two people about their experience, and those two people each tell another two people. According to Entrepreneur, word-of-mouth is triggered when a customer experiences something far beyond what was expected. A mobile solution can help in doing so – by rethinking experience (as was mentioned above). In addition, Nielsen states that 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising – 10 times more effective to be exact. Word-Of-Mouth Marketing, then, is the most powerful form of advertising a small business can have, as each happy customer can steer dozens of new ones their way.
A gym might send out a push notification to its members, for example, asking them to rate the establishment. Members who frequently go to that gym will be encouraged to leave a positive review or share on social media. Now potential customers will come across these reviews when researching gyms online, making a strong case for the small business.
This stronger online presence will lead to the final stage of the ReThink Strategy, namely Reach. More reviews allow you to rank higher on directory websites like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Zomato, making sure local businesses are found.
Reviews have a direct impact on local search rankings, so small business should make acquiring them a priority. Businesses who want to appear in Google’s local 3-pack need to have a high volume of good reviews. A better online ranking will increase exposure and bring in new customers who, in turn, can become advocates for the business.
Imagine you are in the mood for an acai bowl (we love those here in San Diego), but you don’t know where to get one. You’ll most likely conduct an online search, perhaps by typing in “acai bowl in San Diego”. What will pop up are Google’s 3 local listings, showing the most popular places to get this snack. Below that will probably be the yelp list for “best acai bowls in San Diego”. You will most likely eat an acai bowl at one of these places, not going beyond those search results. A mobile solution will help a small business rank for these desirable positions by acquiring an abundance of reviews.
This brings the Rethink Strategy full circle, with new customers coming through (online) word-of-mouth marketing and embarking on the ReThink journey themselves. Not only does each stage of the mobile model improve the experience, it ultimately grows the entire business:
A 1-star increase on Yelp has been proven to translate to a 5-9% increase in revenue.
A 5% increase in customer retention will increase profitability by 25%.
Adopting a mobile solution can save a business an average cost of $5,000 annually.
So, we definitely busted that myth! An app is not just an app. An app can be a mobile solution that redefines the entire customer journey and brings about significant growth. A mobile solution has real tangible results, often making them an integral part of the business. The data suggests small businesses are building apps to increase sales (55%), improve customer experience (50%) and to become competitors in a specific market (50%). According to recent studies, nearly half of small businesses are expected to adopt a mobile app by 2017. The features that an app can have (e.g. mobile food ordering, reservations, loyalty programs) are more than add-ons, each of these are benefits of a complete mobile solution that can help a company save or make money. It’s time for local owners to welcome a mobile solution into their small business.
How has an app transformed your small businesses or the local businesses in your area? Share your experiences in the comments!
The marketing challenge of the future: how to get people to download your app. You might be facing these struggles with your company’s app too. There are many strategies to increase app downloads, including pre-launch marketing, active blogging and gaining endorsement. While these are great long-term projects, you can start small.
Facebook has a new button! You can now add a “Use App” button to your Facebook business page, and link it directly to your app. Your Facebook visitors will be just one click away from downloading and using your app!
This button, and its purpose, is what marketers define as the Call to Action (CTA). In the online sense, a call to action is a region of the screen that drives the visitor to click-through to engage further with a brand. In a broader sense, virtually any type of content can (and should) include a call to action. CTAs have proven to be effective in telling your users what actions to take. So how persuasive are CTAs? We’ll let the stats do the talking:
This post is not about just any call to action, it’s about getting people to download your app.
And here’s how you do it:
1. Log on to your Facebook business page
2. Click on Add a Button
3. Select Use our App from the Choose a Button drop-down menu
4. Enter your app URL in the website field
5. Click Save Changes, and admire your new button!
That’s it, piece of cake. Now any visitor who comes to your Facebook page will see the call to action “Use App”. You are literally telling your customers what their next step is, with regards to your brand. Once they click on that button, they’ll be taken directly to your app. So don’t miss out on this easy (and free) way to connect with your customers and market your app!
P.S. This button is not only for adding an app to your Facebook page. If you want your “button” to say and do something else (i.e. contain a different CTA), simply pick another option from the drop-down menu.