What comes to mind when you think of search marketing?
All these elements can move the needle for your website. They can increase search visibility. They can boost traffic to your website.
But what if I told you there was another element that mattered more? A foundation you need in place for any of the above tactics to work?
Well, it’s true.
Here’s why your agency’s customer service level will make or break your search visibility.
Make your bed.
Your parents might have told you this when you were growing up.
To instill habits of presentability and attention to detail.
Tidiness removes unwanted distractions. It helps build favor among others. And favorability is critical in a business setting.
Your agency’s customer service level is its bed. If you keep it presentable, you can build favor among consumers. If you let it get messy, it can turn potential business away.
It doesn’t matter how great your rates are. It doesn’t matter how many carriers you write. It doesn’t matter if you bind policies in-person, on the phone or through the internet.
Consumers are watching you. Listening to you. Evaluating you.
If you don’t make customer service your top priority, you’re lighting cash on fire.
Where Customer Service Meets Search
The opportunity great customer service provides agencies today is larger than ever. So is the financial risk tied to poor customer service.
The internet has magnified the importance of good service. And, search marketing has raised the stakes by a factor of ten.
How so? Consider this.
In previous generations, a cluttered office desk might have deterred walk-in prospects. A customer service representative who was rude on the phone might have heard a dial tone in response.
Poor decorum hurt agencies. But not at scale.
Lost opportunities only spread as far as the jilted consumer could carry them. The consumer would turn elsewhere, and tell their friends and family to do the same. Each bad interaction would cost the agency a handful of prospects, at most.
Today, consumers can share their bad experience with the world through the internet. The costs of poor customer service can be catastrophic.
Why? Because other internet users aren’t the only ones paying attention. So are Google and Bing.
Search engines take consumer sentiment into account. If consumers show affinity for an agency, search engines might rank it higher. But if they run for the hills, search engines might demote the listing instead.
How do Google and Bing track consumer sentiment? They don’t tap your phones or have employees secret shop your agency. But they do look at interactions with your online properties.
That means looking at your review profiles on such sites as Google Maps, Facebook and Yelp. It means monitoring dwell time on your website. (That’s how long consumers spend on the site, and which pages they visit.) And, it means noting mentions of your agency across the web.
These interactions don’t provide search engines a 360-degree view of your agency. But, they do provide accurate insights on the level of your customer service, both online and off.
After all, a bad customer service experience offline will often end up online. And, a stellar offline experience can lead to an online shout-out.
You can see how critical customer service is to your revenue potential. Great customer service can boost your agency’s visibility, revenue and referral pipeline. Poor customer service can corrode those three areas.
Leveraging the Upside Of Customer Service
So, how can you make your agency presentable? How can you turn consumers into raving fans? How can you ride the wave to greater visibility and revenue?
Establish the following processes.
- Demand excellence. Make delighting customers your agency mission. Train your staff on proper etiquette. Demand the same of new hires. Record office phone calls and run quality assurance on them. Spend time in the office observing the behavior of your agents and CSRs. Success on the bottom line starts with setting a strong foundation on the front line.
- Respond fast. Consumers expect courtesy from businesses they interact with. But they also expect speed. Make sure your staff can respond to quote requests and inquiries in short order. And if many consumers reach out with the same concern, address it through your website.
- Build a network. There may be times when a prospect doesn’t like your coverage options. Or situations where you determine that a prospect isn’t a best fit. Treat these lost revenue opportunities as an opportunity to earn future business. Connect with business partners who serve the markets you don’t. Set up a cross-referral program for these situations. If that’s too ambitious, agree to recommend each other’s agencies. If you can provide consumers with answers time after time, you can excel at customer service. Being helpful can build goodwill and earn you future business.
- Spread the word. If you master the first three steps, you’ll be on your way to mastering customer service. But if the online world doesn’t know about your stellar service, you won’t reap the full benefits. Ask new customers to leave reviews of your agency on Google Maps and Facebook. (Yelp prohibits review solicitation.) But be strategic! Ask for reviews after binding a new policy. Consumers are certain to be happy with your agency. And they’ll have had recent exposure with your customer service.
- Grow your base. Encourage customers to refer their friends and family to your agency. Make sure to include the topic of customer service in your request. Here’s an example: If you enjoy the service we strive to provide, we’d love it if you referred your friends and family. A message like this boost your referral count, if it’s backed up by consistent, stellar service.
These tips might not seem like traditional search marketing tactics. They’re not.
Still, they can be the fuel that powers your agency’s digital marketing engine.
If you commit to them, time after time, you can see your online visibility skyrocket. If you neglect them, your agency will get stuck in its tracks.
Don’t sleep on customer service. There’s nothing soft about it.
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