Given recent, present, and future circumstances, many organizations have had to adapt to shifting state and local regulations that directly impact their operations. From essential business designations, to phased re-opening plans, and shifting consumer behavior, there have been many considerations that impact how an organization serves its customers.
For any organizations that provide local services or have brick and mortar presence, this has likely required constant communication with customers through both online and offline channels. While most of the digital focus is often directed to an organization’s website, email, and social media channels, an often forgotten but equally important (if not more important) channel is Google My Business (GMB). As we move towards and into the re-opening and relaxing of restrictions, GMB is a critical channel to keep up-to-date. This begins with a plan for how you will proactively keep your audience and customers informed and up-to-date with your business operations.
If you have consumers who search for your products or services at a local level, GMB is likely to be one of the first (and possibly only) channels that your customer sees when searching for information about your products or services. For example, I recently ran out of printer paper, but needed to print a document to sign and mail in a timely manner. I could have ordered online, but didn’t want to risk the potential shipping delays. Therefore, I searched for “Printer Paper” to find local office supply stores. In this case, you can see that Office Depot has done a great job with reviews, updated hours, guidance on what’s in stock, and notifications that they offer in-store shopping, curbside pickup, and delivery.
Therefore it is critical to have a strong plan in place for leveraging GMB to communicate to your audience and keep them informed about the latest changes with your operations. Here are the primary ways that we recommend doing so:
- First, ensure that everything in GMB is up-to-date with your present situation. Take inventory of all information and attributes available to you, and ensure you are fully utilizing them for your unique situation. This includes basic updates like days and hours of operations, and newer features that have been released. Google has released many new features for industries such as healthcare, retail, automotive, restaurants, and more. For example, healthcare providers are able to include links to COVID-19 informational landing pages, and their telehealth offerings. Google has provided additional information on a few of these industries that you can access via the links below:
- Second, designate a responsible person(s) and create a plan for what information will need to be updated, and when. This plan should include as much of the final planned content as possible, even though you may not have all the answers. For areas that you may not know, clearly indicate those as TBD in your plan.
- Third, wherever possible don’t wait until the very last minute to update your information. For example, if you will be re-opening next Monday, don’t update your hours of operation that Monday morning once you are open. Instead, update the hours in advance so that Google will have time to capture and reflect the updates. Since the pandemic began, Google has had its staff working remotely, and therefore have been slower to respond to reviewing updated business information in some cases, particularly with regard to organizations that are not in the healthcare industry.
- Lastly, regularly and proactively communicate. Communicate with your audience via responses to reviews as well as questions and answers (Q&A) and proactively communicate with Posts. Review responses are fairly straightforward, but Q&A and Posts are two underutilized features in GMB that can be used to communicate with your audience. You can read more about these features in our past blog posts on Google My Business Q&A and Google Posts.
Ultimately, like most communication strategies, it’s important to have a well-defined plan in place and provide regular, consistent, and proactive communication. As we look forward to businesses re-opening in a safe manner, I hope this helps provide you with some actionable steps you can take to keep your customers informed about your operations.
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