We talk about the importance of SEO so much that it can be easy to convince ourselves the term has been around forever. In fact, the phrase is likely just 20 years old this year, which puts into stark focus how new this specialism is.
With so many businesses having been in existence far longer than SEO, it’s of little wonder Sage have published a list of essential tips to help organisations maximise their online presence.
From ensuring consistency across your website and social media pages, to mastering the art of writing the perfect meta description, SEO is as much an art as it is a science, as webmasters around the globe attempt to probe the ‘minds’ of the search engine algorithms that decide if their web page will appear on the first page or the thirtieth.
Yet, when seeking to maximise SEO, you also need to consider indirect factors which impact your Google ranking. And what is one of the most crucial factors that determines your business’ search engine placement?
Your customer service rating.
Negative reviews impact your business. Pure and simple. If a new business receives a bad review on their social media page it can be a death sentence; driving customers away as they search for a competitor with a higher star-rating.
Take the recent case of the Guggenheim Museum, New York. After publicising that it would host a video exhibition of an installation in China involving animal torture, people took to Facebook to voice their objections. The former near 5-star rating plummeted to less than 2.5 stars, and the number of 1-star reviews now more than double its previous boast of over 12,000 5-star reviews.
Of course, an institution as large as the Guggenheim will recover. But for start-ups, small to medium businesses and companies which rely on their online presence, negative reviews will deter future business from interacting with their website and social media pages; and with this loss of interaction, comes a fall in the rankings.
Thus, keeping your customers happy is the key to maintaining the success you have managed to generate for your business. So what can we do to sustain it?
Customer relationship management (CRM) is the act of understanding what our customers want and how best to provide it for them. And the best way to do that is to allow them to get in touch with us as brands.
Twitter have reported that business-to-customer interactions have increased by 250 per cent since 2015, and J.D. Power Associates have shown that 67 per cent of customers favour contacting customer support via social media rather than by phone.
One of the primary reasons for this cultural shift is not just the ease with which we can access social media pages, but the speed we can do it too.
Rather than searching for a company’s number, dialling it into our phones and holding until a representative can serve us – all while paying for the privilege – social media allows users to find a company with the same platform they use to stay in touch with family, and use the same tools to send a query to a business as they use when organising a meet up with friends.
Consequently, 67 per cent of businesses feel their social CRM model is the most pressing short-term priority as they attempt to deal with this shift in customer service.
However, with so many social media networks to manage, as well as maintaining an effective CRM experience on your business’ website, it can be quite a challenge to respond fast enough. Each page needs a dedicated team to deal with customer requests, and in today’s globalised world, 24/7 service is expected.
In fact, most clients consider any responses longer than one hour to be poor customer service, while a positive experience will result in customers spending up to 40 per cent more of their time and business with that company.
Fortunately, as with most things in today’s digital world, there are tools and companies that can help.
There are a wealth of social media management tools available, which allow you to manage up to three separate social media profiles from a single dashboard.
Instead of clicking back and forth between Facebook, Instagram and Google+, a single team of customer administrators can receive, manage and respond to consumer queries from one, centralised hub.
Act! takes this one step further and allows businesses to not only consolidate their social media, but other business tools capable of providing customers with the best and fastest experience possible. From back office software, improving the time it takes to find the answers your customers are looking for, to online ticket software, so your team can manage and keep track of patron requests.
Alternatively, long-established professional CRM consultancy companies are increasingly refocusing their efforts to assist businesses with managing their online presence.
Naturally, it is tempting to disregard the statistics and assume quality service over speed is far more important, especially for smaller businesses that can’t afford the staff numbers to maintain a large team around the clock. But with 69 per cent of customers associating good customer service with a fast response, can you really afford to gamble over two-thirds of your business?
It is vital that modern businesses seek out ways to manage these growing demands by ensuring they can respond to customer requests in a timely and efficient matter, whatever social media platform they choose to reach you.
Fortunately, while a social CRM strategy is essential to maintaining a happy customer base and, therefore, a strong SEO presence, centralising your social media pages in one single hub will go a long way to helping you stay organised and in control.