I'm advocating for each small business out there to ditch their ridiculous and irritating voicemail system. Unless you are a super large company, quit pretending to be larger than you are - or more important than you are - and just answer the phone.
You'll stand out from the crowd and most likely offer MUCH better customer service. Your customers will be happier as well. NO ONE likes to wade through the slog of your voice mail prompts and the offer of other languages. Just pick up the phone and say, "Hello, this is Susan, how can I help you?" Then actually HELP someone find what they need or who they want to talk to and do it quickly. Time is money and you are wasting client time and not making any friends, by making them wait endlessly to speak with someone who can help them.
Granted, there are probably a few companies that really need a voicemail system...but thinking about it more carefully... AT&T didn't have one for decades. They used live operators. It worked for them and it can work for you. Next, put a person on the phone who is pleasant and helpful. We all understand that employees are hard to find, but surely you can find someone with a clear voice, level head, and a smile in their voice.
In the future, perhaps AI will help us here. We can then ditch our voicemail system because it's antiquated and never has worked well. We can get a computer to answer the phone in any gender or accent we'd like. Personally, my smart phone uses a British male and I like to pretend I have this super smart guy at my fingertips who is always willing to help.
Here's a perfect example: calling a television station recently, I knew my brand new representative's first name but could not remember his last name. I got their voicemail system and it fed me into their employee directory and guess what, you were to plug in the first few digits of their LAST name to get through to them. I wanted to buy advertising on their station and could not get through to anyone and ended up hanging up and sending an email. It took twice as long if not longer.
Consider the fact that this same station used to have a wonderful receptionist who knew everyone and everything at the station. I often wonder what happened to that brilliant woman. I'd like to have her working at my place.
Finally, call your office and listen to your voicemail system and think of ways you can improve it. Surely you can find someone in the organization who can answer the phone as you ditch your voicemail system.
© 2023 Poole Communications
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88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours, according to a Google Mobile Movement Study.
70% of all mobile searches result in action within 1 hour.
Businesses are missing 70% of local content on sites like Twitter and Pinterest because they don’t have location-based sentiment monitoring set up, according to a recent study by Venuelabs.
These are some pretty staggering statistics. You spend lots of time and money building a website and optimizing it for search engines (SEO). But are you optimizing your business for local searches on mobile devices?
Half of mobile users use a local search/map to find businesses.
Let’s start with defining a local search.
An iPhone user asks Siri to find them a nice local restaurant, while visiting St. Louis. Local searches will include a specific location, city, ZIP code, etc.
Local SEO has one goal: to get to the top of the search results. In this case businesses want to rank on top for local geographic terms related to products and/or services that their businesses provide. The typical consumer performing a mobile search probably won’t scroll through pages and pages of results. They want fast, easy answers; they will likely make their decision based on no more than the first page of results.
So, what do you do?
Here’s a few tips to get you started:
Yelp is a community driven review site that enables users to create locations, give details about the businesses, review them, and even post multimedia content.
It’s a major asset; you can thank Apple for that, and here’s why:
When an iPhone or iPad user uses Siri to search for a local business, the results are powered by Yelp. So, if you’re not on Yelp, iPhone users aren’t going to find you in local searches (unless they use their mobile browser and navigate to Google).
But there’s more. Yelp results returned to Siri are based on Yelp reviews. So, the top results returned are going to be the business with the most positive reviews.
But use caution, Yelp reviews can be tricky. If someone creates an account just to write a review for you, it’ll likely never be activated. Yelp likes reviews from active users. Ask your clients if they use Yelp, if they say yes, then ask for a review. Also, you can, and should, thank reviewers and invite them back for another visit, even offer a discount! That person, who’s already a fan, will often post a follow-up review, or answer others’ questions about your business. On the flip side, if someone posts a legitimate complaint, don’t be afraid to publicly apologize – but be sincere. Remember, a scorned customer doesn’t want freebies; they want to be heard.
Google Plus Local Pages
Google Plus Local pages are indexed in more than Android mobile searches. They’re also indexed in three additional types of searches:
Google Plus Local Pages are similar to Facebook business pages, but they have better SEO. You don’t have to post to your Google Plus Local Page as you would on a Facebook business page, although it doesn’t hurt. The essential elements include a complete bio, contact information and some photos.
You’ll also want to ask for reviews. Just like Yelp, the more positive reviews you have, the higher you will rank in searches. And responses to reviews are important here, too.
Other Searches of Note
Not all users search using Siri or Android Google searches. Many people have a favorite app. You should try to have listings on these sites as well. Other sites to consider:
To make the most of these local searches, your website needs to be optimized for mobile viewing. Here’s why:
There are plenty of apps, widgets and resources that can help you optimize your website for mobile viewing.
Now’s the time! Go mobile!
If you have more questions, or want to know more, give us a call!
Here's something to think about when planning for 2013. Many companies spend a lot of their marketing dollars talking about their company, products and services. That's marketing from the inside out. Customers would rather know about how you can help them solve their problems, make money or save time. The most effective marketing is built by putting yourself in your customer's shoes. That's marketing from the outside in. Focus on answering the needs of your customers first and then your products and services will sell themselves.
Put yourself in your customer's shoes and call your own business. If your employees have a commitment to serve (like you do), you can hear it in their voice. I'm old fashioned, I believe phones need to be answered by people - with a friendly voice - and in less than three rings. I tell my people to smile when they are on the phone. Your customer feels it right through the phone lines. If you have people that are bad on the phone - don't let them answer it. They'll damage your business. Put great people on your front line. People that like people. Not only does your business need to be inviting - your people do too. This week and every week provide exceptional phone service.