More threads by Garrett Sussman

Mar 15, 2016
Reaction score
Today's Blog Post:

Marketers: How to Help Your Clients With Customer Service. Seriously.


Every agency educates their clients about how they plan to execute their marketing strategies. An action plan typically proceeds from an audit of where the client currently stands. So if you offer SEO services, for example, you?ll audit your client?s performance in search and use what you learn to develop the strategy and tactics to improve that performance.
Well, if customer service is the new marketing, you?ll want to have a similar process in place to address it with your clients. In this post, I?ll attempt to help you start building the toolkit you need to do so.

Check out the post and download the free Customer Service Assessment Questionnaire for your clients!

Discussion Questions:

In your opinion, what role should a Local Marketing Agency/Consultant in their client's customer service?

Do you think it's worth the effort to help them?

If you found the blog post interesting, please share it with anyone that you think would find it valuable!

Don't hesitate to reach out if you ever want to discuss reputation management and if you have any requests for topics that we can cover on the blog.

Please follow on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn!

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog!

"In your opinion, what role should a Local Marketing Agency/Consultant in their client's customer service?

Do you think it's worth the effort to help them?"

I think it could be a nice value-add.

Often times the reason SMBs get good reviews OR get bad ones, is because of the quality of customer service.

I think often times Local Search Consultants say to customers: "Are you consistently asking for reviews."

Maybe another question to ask clients is: "What are you doing every day to ensure your service is excellent to help make it easier to get more positive reviews?"

Thanks Garrett for the free Customer Service Assessment Questionnaire!

What do you guys think? Would you use something like this to help your clients?
Thank you for the reply Linda!

I would guess that most consultants and agencies do not get involved with their client's customer service and customer experience. But to your point, many times an online review is written due to a stand out customer experience (positive or negative), unless it's on a site like Amazon with reviews strictly about products.

I'm eager to hear if customer service is something that people are willing to touch with a less than 5 foot pole.
I've definitely seen some easy wins with clients in the past. At the very least, it's important to keep the line of communication open, especially if the business owner you're dealing with is a different person than the one that actually deals with customers. That person on the ground interacting with people is often going to know some important things that should be addressed from a conversion perspective, both positive and negative. I think it's worth getting involved at least enough to where you can talk to the secretary/location manager/whoever and see if you can get any good info the business owner didn't know, or didn't think to tell you, especially if it's an industry you haven't done a lot of work in yet.
Thank you for the reply James! So sorry for my late response.

What's been your personal experience? Do you talk about customer service with your clients? Have you run into any clients where the customer service is awful? How do you handle those situations?

Whenever I've worked in customer support in the past, I've found a lot of companies have laid down policies and guidelines, even if they're outdated. It's a tough situation, because it can be one of the most difficult aspects of a business to completely overhaul.
There's a lot of little stories. With one client we hooked their business number with a call tracking system, and saw that almost 10% of their incoming calls weren't being answered. The business owner had no idea, and really appreciated us being able to bring it to his attention, and definitely led to some conversations about business process that were kind of beyond the scope of what we were signed on for... good way to build some trust and credibility. At the very least, it was a good excuse to change their answering machine message.

With a larger multi location business, the business owner's version of what was working and what wasn't turned out to not fit the narrative of the location managers once we were able to start talking with them. The managers knew a ton of great stuff about what customers were looking for, who they were, and what was bugging them about the business as it currently was set up that the business owner wasn't so clear on. Made it very worthwhile to have that conversation, since it helped us write new content that got a bump on conversion rate. Not sure if that'd count as a customer service related conversation, but it was definitely beyond the scope of just Local SEO, and well worth having.
Our interns mark all calls in our call tracking. Those tags include putting customers on hold too long, attitudes with customers, losing a sale, and good closes.

We then train on those items. Some times on location sometimes in gotomeetings.

Staff listen to good and bad examples. Some offices have requirement for front desk to listen to 30 mins calls per month.

We also craft all first negative review responses with clients.

Review trainings include giving Google reviews, Yelp reviews or Facebook reviews to favorite local businesses. That way we are not Hippocrates when we ask for reviews. That way we know what we are asking of someone and how to do it.

If I don't do these things then all the SEO and PPC efforts fall short.

Some of our dental offices close 80 to 85% of prospect calls.

None start out there.

We also teach clients to stop self promotion on social channels. To share less than 10% about the business and the other 90% about the community, other great businesses, articles, etc.

We teach clients how to stop paying for likes and to upload email lists for Facebook look alike campaigns instead.
Great anecdotes James. I think it speaks to "you don't know what you don't know." I feel like most small businesses don't necessarily know how to setup or use data to inform their strategy. Additionally, I've really admired companies that have consistent 'cross-training' where people sit in other roles to get a more holistic sense of the business.

I was watching an episode of Undercover Boss, and while you don't need to be so extreme in understanding the inner workings of your own business on the front lines, I think there's significant value in having that type of experience. When a lot of executives move up to the c-level, it's like they become 'too good' for their front line employees. That's why I love working with small companies and startups, usually the founders/CEO are incredibly invested in every aspect of their company because they have to be.

Your stories definitely relate how Local SEO services can reveal holes in a company's business strategy or at least how important it is to have conversations with everyone in the company. If you, as a consultant are saving the business money from your data-backed revelations, I concur that it immediately builds trust and authority that will only help your relationship going forward.
Thank you for the reply Cody! I really appreciate the insights into your strategy and onboarding.

It sounds like you very much operate on the philosophy, "teach a man to fish." Since you've been doing this for a while, having a nice rolodex of case studies must be incredibly helpful with closing as well.

Do your clients come to your expecting these types of services or do you suggest them in your initial meetings after you've assessed the state of the business?

How do your clients respond to your customer service improvement suggestions? Is there a lot of blowback, or do they jump on the opportunity to follow your company's lead?

How do you spell holistic Local Search strategy for success???

c o d y & j a m e s

I can't even imagine myself working alone on dental campaigns the way I used to 4 years ago. So much goes into it now.

Back in the day all I needed do to get Dentists ranking was cleanup NAP, enhance categories and do some really good on-site SEO. Add on top a little "how to get reviews" training - and bam!
(Way oversimplifying, but it was almost that easy - however still took a lot of work and time.)

If I had to do content generation, customer service critique/suggestion, backlinks and everything else it takes to rank these days - I don't think I could do it.

Kudos to you Garrett! For starting a great topic and asking the right questions. I wasn't sure we get a meaningful conversation started around this topic – but look what happened! :)

You guys are all amazing!

Adding this image that says it all, for my G+ post!


Thank you Linda! I agree that it doesn't seem like customer service would be incredibly relevant on a local search forum, but I think it's an essential component of any business and naturally has an impact when it comes to online reviews (which we do know impact local search).

I also believe that with the recent transformation of digital marketing in the last 5 years, customer service is about to follow suit (it has already in many people's view). A huge part of that is the way the voice of the customer has been amplified, and companies need to be ready for those loud voices, whether they're brand advocates or "Haters."

A surprisingly relevant segue to my blog post this week that I'll be posting in the next 30 min. ;)
I second what Linda said, you ask some good questions Garrett! Cody, thanks for sharing, that's some killer stuff. I'd love to hear more about what Garrett asked about as well if you have the time. Definitely making a few notes in my hopper file for things to come back to and possibly implement.
Thank you James! That means a lot to me, I think good questions lead to good discussions, and you always have insightful and valuable contributions. Cheers.

Login / Register

Already a member?   LOG IN
Not a member yet?   REGISTER

LocalU Event

LocalU Webinar

  Promoted Posts

New advertising option: A review of your product or service posted by a Sterling Sky employee. This will also be shared on the Sterling Sky & LSF Twitter accounts, our Facebook group, LinkedIn, and both newsletters. More...
Top Bottom