It’s 9 pm at night, and after getting the kids to bed, I can finally send a note to a dentist about getting on their schedule. So, I look up a few reviews on Google, choose one near me, and go to their website.

But when I visit their site, the contact us form is broken. So, I call and leave a voicemail, expecting a call back later that week.

The call never comes. So, I choose someone else.

Frustrating, right?

This happens way too often – and simple mistakes cost small businesses thousands of dollars. This is even with the company doing the right things in their marketing, such as being found online, having great reviews, etc.

They dropped the ball when it mattered most!

A few stats:

  • 42% of customers would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience. (source: PwC)
  • 62% of customers share bad experiences with other people (source: Salesforce)
  • 84% of customers feel that experiences are as important as the actual products and services. (Salesforce)

Unless you’re the only game in town, there’s a massive potential loss in revenue (or potential miss in new revenue) if your customer doesn’t have the best experience.

Sadly, it’s easy for businesses – and small businesses where small, digital details can be easily overlooked – to miss something that drives customers away.

But there’s a few, simple ways you can avoid making an unnecessary mistake. After all, there’s plenty of things that can go wrong … why invite trouble if you can easily avoid it?

Here’s some ways to ensure someone sticks around and becomes more loyal:

Respond to contact us forms

Seems simple, right?

Yet I personally can attest to at least $5,000 of business I’ve taken elsewhere in the last few years because a company never got back to me.

And I’m just one person.

From dentists to installers, electricians to realtors, I’ve seen this personally across multiple industries.

Ask yourself: What happens when a person fills out a form on your website? (Do you know what it should do, or have you seen what it actually does recently?)

Will your small business actually reply to this if I fill it out? Many don't.

What to do about it

Test your forms regularly! Open a private browsing window, and fill out a test. Does it get to the right place (make sure it doesn’t filter into junk / spam, as well).

Then, make sure there’s a clear plan in place for when a form is received. Who reaches out?

Will you email? Call? Both?

Checking these two boxes prevents some easily-lost revenue!

Respond to online reviews. Professionally.

Before someone decides to reach out, they’ll research you. And for many, your homepage on the internet isn’t actually on your website – it’s what people see when they Google you.

That’s not just part of your local SEO. It’s also reviews.

But people understand there’s fake reviews! And so, many will actually read some of the latest you’ve received. If you’re a responsive owner, that only provides a positive impression since “Hey, the owner is listening to the customer.”

But bad responses – typically to negative reviews – can tank that impression.

What to do instead

If you get a bad review and it’s legitimate, handle it the right way:

  • Be neutral and respectful in how you approach the person
  • Apologize for the poor experience
  • Invite them to reach out with additional feedback. Bonus if “we’d love the chance to make it right” is part of your response

Here’s an example:

“Hi Caleb, we’re really sorry to hear that we missed the mark here. We appreciate you took the time to leave us this feedback, and we’ll work to improve from it.

We hope you’ll give us another try, and if we can try to make it right, you can reach out to us at (insert email address or phone number here). Thank you!”

One tip: Address the feedback specifically, if you can. Obviously, in this case, it’s a general template, but you can copy / paste the above and make a few adjustments.

But what if the review is fake? You can still reply in a neutral manner! Say something like “Thanks for taking the time to leave us a review! Unfortunately, our records don’t show we’ve done business … if we’ve got this wrong, could you contact us at (insert your info here) so we can make it right?”

This alerts readers that the review could be fake, but also doesn’t attack the reviewer in case it’s actually a valid opinion.

Here’s a few don’ts:

  • Make excuses that fail to address the reviewer’s concerns
  • Use poor grammar / spelling. That gives a bad impression.
  • Argue. You won’t win the argument and it looks petty

Follow-up after the sale / service

No matter if they walk into your store and purchase items or if you’re on the job at their home or office, following up can be a simple way to accomplish two goals:

You get customer feedback

There is no greater source of information than from your actual customers! If they had a great experience, you can learn what worked well – and if they had a poor experience, you can potentially turn a negative into a positive (and maybe even avoid a poor online review).

You give the impression you’re customer-focused

This is clearly a “going the extra mile” step that a ton of businesses don’t do – so by doing it, you’re really standing out and creating a strong final impression while it’s still relevant and timely.

The crazy thing? This can be quite simple (depending on your industry).

Start with what information you gain about your customers. For example, a plumber gets details such as contact information, address of the job site, and obviously what the problem is that requires his services … before even starting the job.

How simple would it be to use that contact’s information to send a postcard after the job’s complete, or a simple text message thanking them for trusting you and asking for feedback?

Call customers back

I recently moved, and I can’t tell you how many companies have lost my business because they didn’t call me back.

And I’d already done my research and picked them!!

Think about it: It’s 9 pm at night, and I’m finally getting to that call for a dental appointment or yard work. Sure, I know they won’t pick up, but if I leave a message (or fill out a contact us form, as noted above), I expect a reply and can rest easy knowing I did my part to get things moving.

…except then, nobody calls or replies. And so it’s on the next one.

This happens way too often. And it’s amazing how business owners feel it’s okay to have a full inbox on their voicemail, too.

What to do instead:

If you’re doing it all yourself, block 30 minutes a day to return phone calls. Managing your calendar well is a must when you’re doing so much, but even if all of your marketing is on-point, it’s for naught if you drop the ball when the customer’s chosen you.

A lot of people are comfortable with text messages, too, as they’ll leave their cell number. Use that to your advantage and spend your time wisely!

Seem simple?

It should be.

But when you’re balancing the books, handling customer compliments and complaints, working on logistics, training staff, and often doing the work itself … these small details can often be left by the wayside.

Take an hour. Just one. And work through these four items.

Can you improve how you’re serving the customer? Are you as easy to get in touch with as you’d like to be?

The answer may surprise you – and any “no” you find can quickly be turned into a revenue-contributing “yes.”

Need help? Try our small business marketing consulting services!

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