If you want to attract more customers to your local business, you need to cultivate and maintain a positive image for your brand. Today’s consumer is more informed and more selective than ever. In the digital age, any business can be reviewed instantly for all to see, and any experience, good or bad, made public. A recent study by BrightLocal found that 88% of consumers read online reviews of local businesses, with 72% reporting they have used positive reviews to determine a business’ trustworthiness. Depending on the kind of word of mouth you’re generating for your business, these numbers can mean the difference between your target customer choosing you or your competitor.
Provide Good Customer Service
As obvious as this may seem, the first step to positive word of mouth advertising is to do everything you can to ensure your customers have a positive experience. Poor customer service is a major factor in consumers leaving negative reviews or advising family and friends to avoid your business. According to Groove, the average satisfied customer will tell 9 people about their experience with a company, which is good news, but for every unhappy customer who complains, there are 26 more who will say nothing at all. So, a positive review, while an important indicator of the quality of your customer service, tells you less about your performance than a negative one does.
Nothing is more essential to maintaining a positive reputation for your business than satisfied customers. Make sure your employees are properly trained to interact helpfully and empathetically with everyone they encounter, whether face-to-face or online. Making sure your customers’ needs are respected and heard can go a long way toward creating a positive word of mouth advertising machine for your local business.
Be Accessible to Your Customers
Optimizing your communication processes to ensure none of your potential customers fall through the cracks is essential to turning them into advocates for your business. Accessibility is key to creating positive word of mouth advertising because customers feel more at ease doing business with actual human beings. There are certain assurances and comforts only you and your employees can provide, and putting a human face on your business can make a big difference.
This applies to your online presence as well. If it doesn’t already, make sure your website and your email signature include easy-to-find contact information and business hours. A prompt email response can mean the difference between a customer doing business with you or moving on to someone who can more quickly provide the information they need. Live chat, too, is a growing customer-service trend to keep an eye on. The faster you can solve a customer’s problem, the less likely they are to look elsewhere.
Nothing you can say about your own business is as powerful to your customers as testimonials from others who have used your products or services. These pithy written statements of praise can really set you apart from your competition. Once you get a testimonial from a satisfied customer, don’t be afraid to show it off. Positive testimonials displayed on websites and social media pages can contribute considerably to maintaining a positive image and increasing consumer trust in your business.
Today’s consumers, particularly millennials, are more likely to either buy from or recommend a company that contributes publicly to charity. But giving back doesn’t have to mean simply cutting a check. It is important for local businesses especially to make an impact within their own community. Angel-GUARD, for example, provides upwards of twenty jobs to local adults with disabilities, both assembling and packaging their products.
In short, word of mouth advertising is earned, not bought. You and your employees should hold the customer experience paramount and make sure you’re always presenting an accessible, human face for your company. In small business, your reputation is your most valuable asset. Remember that one customer’s negative experience with your company can have a considerable negative impact on customer retention and new customer conversion.