By Sean McManus, co-author of The Customer Service Pocketbook
Just before Christmas, news came out that Google has updated the way its search engine works, so that it discriminates against companies that offer bad customer service.
Google counts a link to a website as being a vote in favour of it, and uses those votes (among other things) to decide how highly websites rank in its search results. The problem was that if the links appeared with complaints about the company, perhaps in a consumer rights forum, Google still gave companies credit for that link. Now that’s all changed, and Google says it now penalises companies apparently offering poor service.
The change responds to a claim in a US newspaper that one company deliberately offered bad customer service, just so that people would gripe about it online and give it lots of links that would boost its search engine ranking.
For online businesses, this means it’s never been more important to offer good service. If they don’t, they risk sliding down the search engine rankings, which can have a big impact on new customer acquisition and sales volume.
Google has always been committed to giving people the best web pages for their search queries, but this represents a subtle change. It means Google is now prioritising the reputation of the website operator too, including factors that are independent of the website itself.
Google holds a huge amount of data about customer behaviour that could also be factored in. Let’s not forget that Google knows how often people search for your company name together with ‘complaints department’.
It can even benchmark these figures across different companies, industries and countries, to identify companies that have significantly more complaints than their rivals.
If Google is committed to good customer service, you should be too
Find out how to improve customer service across your organisation in …
Never has there been a time when retaining your customers has been more important. The Customer Service Pocketbook, by Tony Newby and Sean McManus will give you lots of hints and tips about communicating with your customers, dealing with complaints and monitoring your performance.