If you’re in hospitality, beauty, trades or professional services, you’ll understand the challenge of becoming, and remaining, a preferred supplier to customers ongoing. At the same time, many customers find it equally as challenging to source good suppliers they can trust.
Bradley Taylor, spokesperson at TrueLocal, says: “Great-quality, affordable suppliers are like gold for consumers. It’s why many consumers will still travel to their GP near their childhood home, or use the gym beside their old workplace, even though they may face a 30-minute journey each way. By following a few easy steps and knowing what customers look for when assessing a service, businesses can maximise their chances of making it onto customer lists of local service providers.”
As TrueLocal helps an average of 5.7 million visitors each month source local services and is a trusted source of reviews, Bradley is well informed on consumer needs and what businesses can do to ensure their customers continue to return. See his five insider tips to help you secure a spot on a customer’s little black book of local services.
- Partner with complementary businesses for cross-referrals. Consumers often seek referrals from suppliers they already use and trust. For example, a customer might ask the hairdresser they’ve used for years if they can recommend a good beautician, or their go-to plumber if they know of an electrician that does equally great work. “Cross referrals are a great customer-building strategy. Build relationships with similar service providers in your area and offer to refer customers to their business if they’ll do the same for you,” says Bradley.
- Work on rapport. Your first interaction with a customer is your one opportunity to give an indication of the quality of your service. “Consumers seek suppliers they can trust, and rapport is a major factor in building trust. Many businesses that turn leads into sales really go that extra mile in listening to, and understanding, customer needs, and offering additional expert advice – even before they make a sale,” says Bradley.
- Respond to complaints. For consumers, online reviews are a growing source of information about business service levels – and unfortunately complaints are a reality. Responding with care to any customer complaint online will demonstrate to other customers you value them and will set you apart from businesses that ignore criticism. “Respond to a complaint politely online with the view to resolving the issue, but take the communication offline when getting into the details,” Bradley says.
- Develop a presence on specialist online portals. The large search engines are designed to answer a million questions and may not prioritise your listing, Bradley says. “List your business on portals specially designed to help consumers find local businesses – such as directories – and check they’re optimised for mobile. At TrueLocal, we’ve seen a 32 per cent increase in searches by mobile devices and tablets in the last year alone[i].”
- Highlight your credentials. Certifications and industry accreditations give customers peace of mind about the quality of your work which, in turn, builds trust. “Ensure your credentials are clearly listed on your website and marketing collaterals. Join industry associations, too – many people go to associations to source experienced specialist service providers.”