Avoid Customers Crying In Your Parking Lot: A Cautionary Tale
April 2nd, 2015 by
If you’ve ever done a Google search for a business, you’ve likely seen this kind of result.
And I’m sure at least once, you’ve seen this result, driven to the location, and found it to be closed.
In that crushing moment, did you hear your heart beating in your ears? Did you see black spots? Did you curl up into a fetal position?
Google lied to you. It clearly said the business was “open.” You had a full 8 hours before they closed! Rapidly stalking the business’ multiple social media platforms, you finally find one tiny post that says “Closed for the holidays.”
If this has happened to you, you definitely are not alone. Rest assured that I have cried in a coffee shop parking lot due to this very scenario.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Know this, my comrades: it is not the fault of Google—nay! This falls on the responsibility of business owners as part of properly managing and maintaining a Google My Business profile.
Currently, Google has not built out the functionality for saving holiday-specific hours ahead of time. As the profile setup currently stands, you’ll need to manually edit the hours of operation on a given day when your business is open (or closed) outside your standard hours of operation.
See Google’s steps on how to update your business’ hours.
After scouring Google’s forum for topics related to holiday-specific hours, it doesn’t seem like they’ll be adding the ability to set such hours ahead of time. Many of you may grumble and say that this is the last thing you’d think about during the holidays and, man, I get it, but know this:
If customers have just one instance where they very much look forward to coming to your establishment and are discouraged by misleading information, they have less of a chance of coming back. How can they know if you’ll be open?
This issue, however, is not specific to the holidays. It’s also applicable to businesses that have season-specific hours, and … really, all businesses! Companies with out-of-date or incorrect hours will quickly lose favor with customers. Really, take this as a larger lesson for why displaying accurate information across the World Wide Web is essential to a business’ success.
As Google’s search engine becomes increasingly more sophisticated, results will become increasingly more accurate. Online users already rely on the Internet to supply the most up-to-date information on any given topic, so why should your business be immune to this demand? The point is, it isn’t.
Google Time Stops For No Man
Set a calendar reminder the day before to update your hours. Set an alarm on your phone! Put post-it notes all over the place. Tie a ribbon to your finger. Pay your tech-savvy kid to do it. Or hire an Internet marketing company to manage your profile for you. Whatever method you choose, just know that you are doing a great service to your customers—and to the world!
In addition to managing an accurate and up-to-date Google My Business profile, it’s a good idea to update your social profiles as well. Facebook has easy-to-manage settings on your business’ page. Additionally, if your website has a built-out blog, it might be a good idea to have a holiday-specific post. In addition to alerting your customers about abnormal hours, a holiday-specific blog post opens the door to great time-sensitive content marketing opportunities.
For instance, let everyone know your restaurant is open on St. Patrick’s Day and post your holiday-specific menu for the day, highlighting any specials you may have on account of the holidays.
Contracting company closed for Christmas? Make a blog post about being unavailable on certain days, but highlight necessary winter-related structural checks or services that you will be offering when you return to normal business hours. Share the blog post across your social media platforms.
Medical practice open for limited hours over Easter? Post a piece highlighting choking hazards for Easter-related paraphernalia, common food dye allergy reactions, or the importance of a dental check-up after candy-centric holidays.
Clothing boutique open on the Fourth of July? Embellish a blog post with photos of your cutest red, white, and blue outfits. Have a friendly contest amongst shoppers and get them to post the Fourth of July outfits they purchased at your store. Who wore it best?
Sno-ball stand closed for the winter? Write up a cute post about how you’ve gone north to collect more “snow” for the next coming season and when your customers can expect you to return! Also, post new flavors that they can anticipate for next season (or new combinations of old flavors). Or have a contest over the winter to see who can come up with the best flavor!
Go Forth And Update
So, let this be a warning to you. Every time a search result for your business shows inaccurate information, you may just be losing a customer. Don’t think of maintaining accurate information as a chore but as an opportunity to engage and educate your customers.
Have questions about maintaining other aspects of your Google My Business profile or opportunistic content marketing? Have an incorrect-business-info experience you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!
First off, been there.
Second, any post with this many cat photos is a winner to me. Well-played!
Third, platform-specific solutions for SMBs – ie, “be sure to update Google, Yelp, and your important vertical-specific business listings before going away for the weekend” – seems to me to be an approach that will NEVER work in practice no matter how much Google My Business (or whatever they are calling it this week) invests in marketing. I’d expect the most saavy SMBs will update their website saying they’ll be closed, but that’s about it. Of course those using Yext can use that route to update in one place which is a good solution, but that’s going to be a small minority also.
To me, the “best” solution would be website schema – update the website, the smart directories including Google will/should pull that in. But then again, schema adoption (nevermind SMB updates to it) is perhaps pie in the sky, too. After all, the SMB population for the most part still has mobile-unfriendly websites, which should be an easier ask but few seem inspired to act.
I reckon that in the meantime we the poor consumers will still have to call (…or at least check the business website) first.