For Most SMBs Customer Service Matters More than Ad Performance

Causes of SMB churn

The two main causes of small business (SMB) advertiser churn have to do with poor (perceived) campaign results/performance and customer service frustration. These are captured in the LSA-research chart above. But these same reasons are repeatedly cited in other research.

I’ve had a number of conversations with various sales organizations recently that suggest customer service is the single biggest variable that will affect advertiser retention. Certainly marketing performance is critical and notwithstanding the order of reasons in the chart, there’s ample evidence that customer service is the most important factor.

RearchLocal recently indicated that it has focused more resources on customer service and seen positive results. Loyalty platform Belly has also touted customer service as a key differentiator vs. other SMB marketing platforms and tools.

Net promoter data collected by Alignable not long ago showed that GoDaddy’s customer service was a key factor in its win in the webhosting category. While some providers (Wix, Squarespace) were regarded as more “usable,” from a DIY perspective, GoDaddy triumphed because of customer service:

According to Alignable’s NPS data of over 4,500 ratings submitted across 25 leading small business brands, GoDaddy is the most highly recommended website provider.

Despite the rise of so many new, sleek “DIY” platforms available to small business owners, GoDaddy not only has the highest NPS score, they ran away with it. Elite customer service was the core component of almost every user review that was submitted regarding GoDaddy.

Google has data that show up to a third of SMB customers who churn out of marketing programs would be willing to return if contacted — by apparently they’re not contacted. This is a customer service issue.

Google has also said (as have others) that in situations where there’s an in-person sales relationship advertiser retention is stronger than a telesales relationship. And there’s quite a bit more evidence like this. When outsourcing their marketing, what SMBs want is a reliable and trusted relationship. They don’t want to be “upsold,” they want a place to turn for real help.

Unfortunately a lot of what passes for SMB marketing “education” is thinly veiled sales and many reps (in person or on the phone) are given incentives not to help advertiser but to hit quotas and sell certain packages.

Marketing performance and related metrics are important. I’m not saying they’re not. But today companies are throwing every conceivable piece of data at the SMB: impressions, clicks, calls, form fills, etc. This is usually in the hope that the advertiser will see value or be convinced that the program is “working.”

What might be more effective is taking the time to listen and understand the business owner and going the extra mile to deliver great service. Does anyone disagree?

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