Announcing Text Reviews

We would like to announce the addition of our all-new Text Reviews functionality that enables merchants to collect feedback faster by sending review requests where customers are sure to see them: via text message on their smartphones.

Collecting reviews from customers has always been challenging for merchants, as phone calls and emails requesting reviews have historically yielded low response rates. Our Text Reviews offers customers the convenience of providing immediate feedback about their recent visit by sending a review request via text message to their smartphone.

To send text review requests using Text Reviews, merchants get verbal consent from customers to send them text messages. A one-time text opt-in request is then sent to the customer’s confirmed number, providing an easy way for merchants to collect text opt-ins for future text communication with the customer. The customer then receives a text message with a link to a review request containing a unique URL. Reviews submitted from the unique URL are then posted on any merchant web pages and Facebook business profiles connected to a merchant’s Demandforce dashboard.

Demandforce Text Reviews is the latest Demandforce innovation designed to help merchants improve customer satisfaction and retention using technology. Text requests see a 98% open rate compared with just 20-30% for email requests according to a recent Velocify study. This greatly increases the odds that customers will provide reviews with actionable feedback for merchants that can be used to improve the customer experience.

More information on Demandforce Text Reviews functionality, which is available immediately, can be found here

Introducing Demandforce Choice Plus!

The introduction of Demandforce Choice Plus enables you to take more complete control of your online reputation.

We made the shift to a tiered product offering with the introduction of Demandforce Choice and Demandforce Choice Plus. This evolution coincides with the introduction of new tools designed to help our customers manage and enhance their online reputations.

Demandforce Choice: Proven Value That Drives Business

The existing Demandforce product suite is now known as Demandforce Choice, and includes the core features upon which Demandforce built its reputation: online scheduling, appointment reminders, online review management, and email marketing tools to help your company save time, reduce no-shows and acquire more customers.

Demandforce Choice Plus: Mastering Online Reputation Management

Demandforce Choice Plus bundles the traditional benefits of Demandforce Choice with new solutions for online reputation management, including:

Intelligent Reviews: Automated review requests via email and text enable merchants to get more reviews published directly to Google.

Multi-listing Management: A consolidated view of a merchant’s business listings and reviews in one place, including listings on Google+, Yelp, Facebook, and Demandforce Local.

Competitor Dashboard: An instant, real-time snapshot of how a merchant’s ratings, reviews, and promotions compare to those of top competitors.

Demandforce Choice Plus is available immediately. If you would like to learn more information can be found at http://go.demandforce.com/ChoicePlus.

The proof is in the numbers: Demandforce can help your business grow

According to a financial statement analysis done by Sageworks, a financial information company, businesses with less than $5 million in annual revenue experienced, on average, a 7.8 percent annual sales growth in 2015. This follows the trend of continued growth in annual small business sales that we’ve seen since the Great Recession of the late 2000s.

If you’re a small business owner, prospects could be looking bright for you, but you still always need to work towards increasing your customer count, visits per day, and revenue per day, to continue to grow. Even if you have a loyal fan base, if you don’t have the numbers, you might run into cash flow problems. According to a U.S. Bank study, 82 percent of businesses that fail do so because of cash flow problems.

So how can you be proactive about growing your business? By investing wisely in three aspects:

  1. Your product or service
  2. Your team
  3. Your marketing and communications

Your product or service

This is the most obvious aspect of your business that you need to quality control and provide. If you don’t offer a service or product that is in demand, and that is of a high caliber, than you’ll have trouble attracting new business and growing.

Your team

The foundation of any great business starts with the people who work there. This goes for startups to large corporations. The dedication and passion your team members put into their work pays off in the quality of service your business provides. You and your team directly impact how well your business does, and so investing in yourself and your team is never a bad idea.

Your marketing and communications

You may be the greatest dentist, doctor, veterinarian, or mechanic in your town, but if you no one knows that, then your business won’t get off the ground, let alone grow. While traditional forms of marketing like word-of-mouth referrals and local advertisements are still valuable, investing in marketing and communications that reach a wider group of prospects is essential if you want your business to continue to grow. That’s why the best way to increase customer count, visits, and revenue per day is to invest in improving and optimizing your marketing and communications.

Take these stats: auto shops that sign up for Demandforce, a marketing and communications platform that provides tools and solutions to help small businesses (such as auto shops and more) grow, saw an immediate effect in all three of these areas.

Within just 6 months, the average customer count at auto shops using Demandforce increased by 4.89%. Average visits per day went up by 11% after just six months, and average revenue per day increased by 4.57%.

And the numbers continue to rise after a year of using the platform.

After a year, the average customer count at an auto shop using the platform increased from its original number by 12.48%, and average visits per day had increased by 13.21% in a year.

(Based off a survey of select Demandforce auto shop partners, 2017)

With just a bit of help, your business could start seeing immediate increases in these three key areas, which are all good indications of your business’ health. And one of the benefits of using an online platform designed for small businesses is that it’s easy to use. Setting up and sending out a custom email to inactive customers, for example, can be done in just a few minutes, by following the helpful walkthrough and using a ready-made email template. Demandforce specifically integrates with popular content management systems to sync appointment and customer data, so that you can set up helpful automated workflows, such as advanced appointment reminders and two-way text, completely contained within the online platform.

If you’re looking for immediate results, Demandforce can help. The platform offers a live demo and occasional special introductory offers. To find out more or to schedule a demo, you can either call (888) 272-7821 or visit demandforce.com and click the “See a demo” button.

Customer service advice for small businesses

If you’re a small business such as a dentist, medical specialist, auto shop, hairstylist, or veterinarian, you know how important each customer is to your bottom line. You can’t afford to lose a customer or patient due to a bad experience, and many of your customers might come to you specifically because they want the “white glove” customer support you can give them.

Every small business should strive to provide best-in-class customer support to its clients. The business that can make its customers feel special is the one who will foster loyalty and return visits. Additionally, your reputation – both online and via word-of-mouth marketing – will improve.

A Starter Guide: Customer Service Advice for Small Businesses 

Treat every client like they’re you’re only client… to a point

For any business, quality customer service and support are vital in keeping customers happy and willing to recommend you to their family, colleagues, and friends. If you strive to treat every client like they’re your only client, it’s a win-win. Just make sure you’re not neglecting other clients. Some advice:

  • If you can, assign a Customer Success Representative to each client, and try to have this be the point of contact for that client. Establishing a consistent representative for your business can help make your customer feel more comfortable and understood.
  • Avoid canned responses, and when possible, tailor your communications directly to your client, making sure to keep their preferred communication method and channel in mind.

Set boundaries and expectations… make sure you’re on the same page

If you’re going to grow your business, you need to recognize that some customers are better for your business than others. What this means is that as long as you show respect for your customers and treat them well, they will (and should) respect you and how you run your business. This is the customer that will help you grow, and the kind you want to keep coming back. If you don’t set boundaries with your customers, they can end up creating unneeded stress and consuming valuable time. Some advice:

  • You don’t need to be a 24/7 business if that doesn’t fit within your business model. It’s important that you run your business on your own terms and establish a clear day-to-day schedule with your customers. If you continue making exceptions, your customers might understandably not even know when you are truly open, and continue to expect “after hours” service.
  • Keep your business listings online up-to-date and send out text and/or email communications to your customers when you have modified or changing hours.

Handle things promptly… remember who your audience is

When you’re dealing with anything on social media, it’s critical to always respond quickly and in a professional manner. According to some studies, over 67 percent of Internet users are on social networks, and this means that you need to develop strong relationships with your customers on and offline. Think of it like a relationship: if one side thinks the other isn’t communicating, listening, or engaging, then a breakup might be on the horizon. Remember…

  • On social media, silence leads to losing customers – no response, or a slow response, can be read as apathy or coldness by customers
  • You don’t need to respond seconds after a post, but you should respond. Some incentive? A Harris study showed that 18 percent of people who posted negative reviews and received a reply went on to become loyal customers. And 70 percent reversed the content, either by deleting the negative comment or posting a follow-up positive one. 

It never hurts to ask… for referrals and testimonials 

If you’ve been in business for more than a few months, you probably know that referrals are one the most effective ways to grow your business and attract new, loyal customers. However, you also may HATE asking for referrals, or just not know how. Don’t assume that your customers will just talk about your business, and your great customer service. Remember: the more you ask for referrals, the more you’ll get. Here are some tips:

  • Make asking for a referral part of your routine. With some systems, like Demandforce, you can automatically send a referral follow-up to customers who have just visited your business. These are great ways to not only collect feedback on how you’re doing, but also allow your customers to review you and post those reviews online. Remember that most people like to help out others, especially if it’s not a complicated process.
  • Combine asking for referrals with requesting testimonials – consider creating testimonial cards that you can pass out at your front desk, so that someone can write one and then either drop it in the mail, or email you back. You can also send a targeted email requesting a testimonial or feedback from customers who have rated you highly in a review.

Looking for more advice on how to provide best-in-class customer service? It’s always a good idea to improve your communications, and Demandforce can help. Contact us today to see a demo. We believe in stellar customer service as well! Every Demandforce customer is paired with a Customer Success Manager, who will help you set up and optimize any and all Demandforce features to best suit your business and business goals. Call us at (888) 272-7821, or visit demandforce.com.

 

The benefits of Demandforce Local for your business

Demandforce Local is a public, searchable directory of 28,000 small businesses located in your neighborhood and across the U.S.

For Demandforce customers, a Demandforce Local business listing provides multiple benefits, and in today’s article, we’ll examine a few.

DF Local increases your business’ online visibility

Demandforce Local was designed to increase your online visibility, so you can extend your reach to new customers and boost local sales. Your DF Local business listing can be quickly and conveniently updated directly from within your DF portal, so you know your data is always up-to-date.

DF Local offers strong SEO support to boost your business name in a Google search

For a small business, having a strong presence online is a crucial part of how you attract new customers and continue to grow. The more sites you can get listed on, the better—especially if those sites are recognized as trustworthy and helpful to Google’s ever-updating algorithm that ranks sites. Where your business shows up in a list of Google search results basically boils down to the strength of your online reputation – and Demandforce Local can help. With the help of automatic review requests from Demandforce’s online marketing platform, your business can collect and highlight certified customer reviews all on one site. This strengthens your online reputation and helps widen your reach to new customers.

DF Local allows you to post targeted special offers for your customers

One feature of Demandforce Local is its ability to post targeted special offers to your customers. This allows you to foster customer loyalty and entice new customers to try your services over a competitor’s. You can view a list of the online specials you offer within your Demandforce portal, along with a summary of the activity generated from them, allowing you to test and learn which offers work best for your customer and prospect base.

DF Local provides useful metrics and customer insights for your business

In order to grow, you need to understand your customer, and one of the best ways to develop keen customer insights is by tracking metrics such as the performance of certain marketing campaigns, or numbers of appointments booked on specific channels (e.g., via Facebook, your website, or an email link). You can view these metrics on your Demandforce Local homepage, including how many appointments were booked via your page, and how many times your profile has been viewed.

DF Local gives you the opportunity to network with other local, non-competing businesses

Cross-sell opportunities are often an important aspect of building and maintaining a small business. The relationships you foster with other local businesses can help introduce your business to new customers, and you can boost your local reputation. One of the benefits of Demandforce Local is that your business is promoted to a network of non-competing businesses, and you can track activity in your network, in case you want to connect with other local business owners for promotions or events.

These are only a few of the ways Demandforce Local can benefit your business. To learn more about Demandforce Local, you can set up a complimentary consultation with a Demandforce expert. Call us at (888) 272-7821.

Your cheat sheet to sending better emails

Email marketing continues to be an important aspect of patient communications, especially in regards to patient recall and retention. In a recent survey, 77% of respondents said they prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email. Further, all age groups named email as their preferred source for communication. If you’re a dental or medical practice that wants to improve the way you communicate with your patients, read this cheat sheet to sending better emails.

Spend time on strategy

Top performing emails – ones that get opened and drive visits – are ones that have had some strategy applied to them. Out of all the steps that go into creating, developing, and sending an email (this includes: the creative, segmentation & targeting, strategy, email layout and processing, and reporting), strategy has the greatest effect on whether your email is ultimately successful. So even if you’re sending automated emails for things like appointment reminders and birthdays, put some thought into creating your next promotion or recall campaign.

Test and track results

Unless you’re incredibly lucky or a natural marketing genius, the first email you send won’t be the best one you could send. With each communication you send to patients, you can learn valuable insights about what your patients want, and how you can tailor your practice and communications to better engage with them. So what should you test in your emails?

  • The subject line
  • The message
  • The layout and images
  • The CTA (Call-to-Action)
  • The day you send
  • The time of day you send
  • The landing page
  • Your audience
  • The sender
  • Mobile layout and images

Design for mobile

In the modern, digital age, the last bullet is quite possibly one of the most important, so we wanted to split it into its own section. One of the keys to sending better emails is to design for mobile. Whatever email platform or system you choose, make sure they have considered how to optimize their emails for mobile viewing. Did you know that 75% of smartphone owners say they are highly likely to delete emails that they can’t read on their phones?

Mobile viewing isn’t a rising trend; it’s the new normal. By the end of 2013, the number of commercial emails opened on mobile devices had already surpassed the number opened on desktops. Yet there are still practices out there who aren’t using mobile-friendly layouts. Stand out from the crowd by designing and considering where and how your patients will read your emails. You can even go further with a marketing platform like Demandforce, and offer text reminders and two-way text to your patients as well, making it even easier for them to confirm and communicate with your practice.

For more information on all this and more, visit demandforce.com, or call us at (888) 272-7821.

Managing client expectations with improved client communications

In any small business or practice, managing expectations is crucial to building and maintaining a successful relationship with your clients. However, if you don’t manage client expectations early, you could find yourself in some tense situations later on down the road, or experiencing low retention of your clientele.

One way to manage client expectations is to communicate early on how you’ll send out notifications, updates, or important information that your clients might need/want to know.

Send a Welcome Email

For example, if you are a salon who has recently seen several new clients, we recommend sending out a targeted Welcome email, thanking them for their first visit, and providing more detailed information on your services and history.

If you use a marketing and communications platform like Demandforce to send these messages, you can track open rates and specify specific people to receive the email, all based on data synched directly from your salon management system. And Welcome messages sent via Demandforce have an average open rate of 50 percent! (Based on 2016 Demandforce data).

Find Out Your Client’s Preferred Method of Communication

Another way to manage client expectations is to take time to chat with your client during their first visit, and ask them for their preferred method of communication. You can even ask for their consent to send text message updates, or special offers you might be running, and you can confirm that the data you have in your system is up-to-date and complete. This allows you to make sure that when you send a message, via email, voice call, or text, it’s not unwelcome, and your client knows that you might be contacting them.

Continue to Reach Out

One common mistake businesses make that can affect client expectations is to stop communicating with them after the first few months. If your salon or small business emphasizes a personal touch, and friendly family atmosphere, you need to make good on your promise. Set up custom email campaigns to send automatically to specific clients, promoting specials, loyalty rewards, or discounts. Celebrate important milestones with them by sending birthday and anniversary greetings. And make sure that your clients never miss an upcoming appointment by setting up automatic appointment reminders and recall campaigns to send out based on data collected in your management system.

If you continue to nurture the relationship you have with your client past the first visit and beyond, you’ll turn a new client into a loyal client—and you’ll always exceed your clients’ expectations.

For more information on how you can use the marketing tools and communications solutions provided by Demandforce to manage your client expectations, visit demandforce.com/salon-and-spa.

3 quick tricks to strengthen your online reputation

Looking for 3 quick tricks to help you strengthen your online reputation? While nothing beats taking the time to nurture your brand identity and personality online with steady, consistent engagement, the following are 3 quick tricks to help jumpstart your online presence.

1. Leverage Social Media

You took the time to set up your Facebook page, Instagram account, Twitter, and LinkedIn – so now’s the time to utilize them! Collect and post customer reviews on social media, and connect with your customers through engaging, relevant social posts. Showcasing your business on social media increases your value and exposure exponentially!

2. Use Negative Reviews Wisely

Always acknowledge and respond to negative reviews, creating a conversation to reach a resolution. Never leave a negative comment unanswered on a Facebook post or your Yelp page. Even if you need to take the conversation offline, respond publicly so that other customers and prospects see that you responded in a timely matter, and care about working with the customer to come to some sort of resolution. Remember, some negative feedback can add more legitimacy to your positive reviews.

3. Measure, Measure, Measure

Never stop tweaking and learning from your posts and your customers. Establish a plan to track and monitor your online reputation, including these important indicators:

  • Volume
  • Velocity
  • Sentiment
  • Recency
  • Keywords

If you want to strengthen your business’ online reputation, check out the online reputation management tools from Demandforce. You can send automatic review requests, post directly to popular search sites, and manage your online reputation all from our easy-to-use online platform.

Call us at (888) 272-7821 to see a demo, or visit demandforce.com for more info.