Consumers are creatures of their environment. They’re influenced by what they see and hear. And their experiences shape their behavior. In today’s world, those experiences often occur over a computer or smartphone. These new channels have changed our behaviors and expectations. As a result, modern digital consumers are always connected, have high expectations, and aren’t known for their patience.
For small business owners with limited technology resources, it can be difficult to break through the market noise, capture a potential customer’s attention, earn their business, and realize a sustainable profit.
To find out exactly what keeps consumers from doing more business with local service providers, Jobber conducted a survey of over 1,000 consumers across the U.S.
We asked our respondents:
- How they feel about small businesses.
- What small business owners in their communities could do better.
- How their real and digital world experiences inform their choices when considering who to do business with.
Here’s some of what we learned.
1. Patience is an unpopular virtue
50% of people surveyed said they would be deterred from using a small home service business if they had slow response times to customers asking for information or a service. In a digital world, it’s not just about picking up the phone from 9 to 5. The internet has conditioned consumers to fast response times and instant gratification.
To feed the need, put an online booking tool on your website. You’ll impress clients with convenience. And you can respond to requests for quotes much quicker than competitors who are bogged down in games of phone tag. You can also introduce a chatbot on your Facebook page to respond to social inquiries immediately.
Finally, provide quality content people can quickly scan to decide if they want to go further with you. You can’t work 24/7 to service consumer demand. But technology and content can.
2. Your reputation precedes you
52% of people surveyed said they would be deterred from using a small home service business if they had poor online ratings. Poor reviews are an even bigger problem when you consider that Google attributes as much as 13% of your business ranking to reviews.
To combat negative online reviews, prepare a script that fits with your brand and style. Keep it short and sweet. First, apologize for the situation. You might not be in the wrong, but this isn’t about assigning blame. It’s about protecting your reputation. Apologize for the situation at hand and missing the mark with your customer. Second, provide contact information for the customer to reach out to you. This lets you steer the conversation offline where you can figure out how to make things right.
Of course, the best offense is a good defense. Focus your energy on collecting positive reviews. And don’t overcomplicate the process. Simply send a friendly follow-up email after your transaction with the client and include a link to leave a review.
3. There’s a failure to connect
34% of people surveyed said they would be deterred from using a small home service business if they did not have a website. Translation: You may not think your business needs a website, but without one, your customers simply won’t find your business.
They’re out there right now, pouring over search results, researching your competitors, and weighing their options. All before they even get in touch with a service provider. You might have an online presence already. You might have a Facebook page, a Yelp profile, or a Google My Business listing. And those are great starting points. But they’re not enough. You need more control. That’s what a website is for.
4. Payments are a problem
28% of people surveyed said they would be deterred from using a small home service business if they had limited payment options. Believe it or not, clients want to pay you. You just have to make it easy for them.
Start by letting your customers know your business offers a range of payment options, including mobile payments from card scanners and integrations with popular payment processors such as PayPal, Stripe, and Square. Similarly, allow clients to pay online through your website when you send them an invoice. Providing clients with clear, convenient choices makes life easier for everyone. And it can help you get paid more, faster.
Consumers recognize the importance of small businesses to local economies and want them to succeed. Many are even willing to pay more to support small businesses and feel there should be government initiatives to support them.
But consumers aren’t willing to sacrifice their experience to support a small business. Your website, online reviews, response times, scheduling options, and payment options are all part of that. Invest the time in making those experiences great, and you’ll win more customers.
Kira Charron is an experienced marketer who spends her days helping small businesses grow their online presence. Today, she works on Jobber’s stellar marketing team where she writes about marketing, customer service, and technology. When she’s not writing, you can find Kira listening to the radio while KonMari-ing her apartment or scouting garage sales to buy more junk (counterintuitive, we know).