Google have launched chat functionality via their local listing (this is limited to the US, for now).
The product allows users to directly message a business owner through a GMB listing. Businesses can then “listen” to the messages, choosing to respond either via SMS or Allo. Customers are advised on the typical business response time according to each individual listing. For example, see the bottom of the following image:
Why you should activate the feature
This is a great feature as it isn’t always convenient for the user to call the business for information while say driving or at work. Its development is yet another sign of the importance Google is placing on the local channel – its functionality and the user experience expected by customers.
Many negative Google reviews are due to the user not being able to speak to someone in store, saying things like “nobody answers the phone” or “the phone number is wrong”. Additionally, many brands point local searches to the homepage as opposed to the store page which can case huge frustration.
This latest Google feature emphasises the channel’s importance in answering the users query, whether this is regarding stock levels, directions to the store, opening hours etc. Chat functionality is essentially an enhanced customer service tool.
It isn’t just Google that is focused on local
Facebook also allows businesses to use Messenger to engage with customers. We’re of the opinion that local is an area Facebook can compete with Google via check-ins to places and the option to leave reviews.
With the users’ growing desire to share experiences, it is the natural progression for the local channel to gain more prominence with the social network giant.
Here’s an example of the Facebook Messenger functionality:
So, how is your brand positioned for local search?
Are you answering reviews? Most brands are not.
Are your opening hours updated? Most brands don’t.
Are you optimising & managing Google listings only? If so, you’re missing out on valuable traffic and not controlling the brand perception via Facebook, Apple, Bing etc.
Get in touch with the DAC team and start planning your local strategy now.