During the earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of Google’s basic reviews functionality took a backseat to critical GMB listing updates for essential businesses. In addition to focusing Google’s resources on where it mattered most, Google also likely wanted to avoid the spread of misinformation and unwarranted negativity during the onset of COVID-19.

As we reported in our previous blog, Google temporarily stopped publishing new reviews, review replies, and Q&A. Customers were still able to write and view their own reviews, but these reviews were not verified or posted for the general public to see.

We are happy to report that customer reviews are coming back to Google. This is an important development as businesses begin to reopen and consumers start searching for various services online.

On Google’s support page, they specifically stated:

“Review replies are now available. New user reviews, new user photos, new short names, and Q&A will gradually return by country and business category.”

In addition to announcing that reviews are coming back, Google also noted that businesses can add a “COVID-19 update” to their Business Profile. You can learn about how to create a COVID-19 post here. Businesses can upload media and add things such as:

  • Hours of operation and temporary closures.
  • Changes to how the business operates, such as takeout or delivery only, call for details, or others.
  • Updates to how the location is being managed as it relates to safety and hygiene.
  • Requests for support.

We hope you found this information helpful. As always, Listen360 will continue to share updates and tips as we learn more. Connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for live updates.

Businesses are struggling to keep up with the impact of COVID-19 and Google is no exception. As organizations work to maintain the accuracy of their Google My Business Listings, Google is also focusing their resources on verifying the quality and reliability of information on Google Search and Maps. 

In addition to publishing information on how to keep consumers informed during these unprecedented times, Google also announced some temporary limitations to Google My Business functionality, including a short-term change to reviews.

Here are the highlights:

New reviews, new review replies, and Q&A are temporarily unavailable

Google will not publish any new reviews, review replies, or Q&A until further notice. Customers can still write a review (and view it), however, the review will not be verified or posted for the general public to see.

Google hasn’t specified whether or not the reviews will be visible at some point, however, based on Google’s new post-review confirmation, it looks there is simply a delay and it’s safe to assume the reviews will eventually appear.If this is a concern for your business, you may want to consider asking for reviews on other sites such as Facebook. Listen360 allows you to customize the sites listed on your review request, as well as the order in which they display.

Maintaining the Accuracy of Google My Business Listings is Critical

Keeping consumers informed during this difficult time is just one way your business can continue to provide standout levels of service. Google announced that they are prioritizing critical updates for health-related businesses so you may see a delay, but we still recommend updating your listings.

Here are some helpful tips:

Our hearts go out to all the businesses and individuals that have been impacted by COVID-19. Listen360 will continue to share updates and tips as we learn more. Connect with us on Facebook, Linkedin, or Twitter for live updates.

When your business is entering people’s homes to provide a service, they’re going to watch you like a hawk. Even tiny mistakes are amplified when you’re in somebody’s house. When those mistakes end up amplified across reviews sites and word of mouth, it can have big consequences. But even if you do everything by the book and provide great service, you might still get a bad review. The truth is, you may be doing or missing something that you didn’t even know your customers cared about. It seems impossible to prepare for everything; you can’t read minds… Or can you?

Maybe with a little help. We analyzed surveys from 1,500 customers of the home services industry to see what makes them tick. And what ticks them off. Retaining a new client is entirely dependent on exceptional customer experience. In fact, companies that make customer experience a priority generate 60% greater profits than competitors. On that note, you may want to take a look at what we found.

Pain Points

We looked at each stage of the service process to find out what sort of things drove customers away during those periods. Here’s what they said.

Notice how many problems have nothing to do with the actual performance of the service itself. Front and backend details will get you.  Communication in some form pops up in almost every category, so it’s not just about getting the job done. The days of customer service are over; customer experience is the new name of the game. That game starts the second they see your brand name and continues long after a service provider leaves the home. Understanding and training for all of the instances surrounding the actual date of service will increase retention.


Preparing for the worst will make you a good business, but knowing what wows customers will make you a great one. Here’s what they said about making a delightful, exceptional experience.


Once again, communication, honesty, and helpfulness are themes throughout the process. This shows that it’s important to create a dialogue and consistently collect feedback from your customers. The more insight you have into how they’re thinking and feeling, the more you’ll be able to provide an experience that will delight them. When you exceed customers’ expectations, they’ll become loyal fans of your business. Increasing retention by even 5% has been shown to increase profits anywhere from 25-95%. The numbers don’t lie; acting on feedback pays off.

If you’d like to keep learning about customer feedback and best practices, we’ve got a great resource for you. Listen360 recently published a comprehensive customer loyalty benchmark. In the report, you’ll learn the strategies of top-performing brands, business growth priorities, applications for your own business, and much more. Check out the free 2019 Customer Loyalty Benchmark here.

The Y knows better than most that communication is crucial to strengthening a community and a business. It’s impossible to work with one another towards change without maintaining an open dialogue. But the YMCA family is now a global community. Even on an individual location level, neighborhoods are bigger than ever. How can you be sure that your member experience strategy is growing to match the increasing needs of your community?

Ys across the nation have been implementing the Net Promoter System to be absolutely sure they’re providing the experience they promise. Not only does NPS capture how loyal members are the brand or location, but it also provides insights that increase retention and help with training. All of that value starts with one question: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend your Y?”

It seems like pretty basic stuff, right? But once you use the formula and analyze the responses, you start to learn a few things. NPS scoring allows Ys to categorize types of members. Examining these groups creates a better understanding of their relationship with the brand. Members break down into three groups: detractors, passives, and promoters.

Knowing your score lets you benchmark your progress as a Y. Just as with exercising or studying, you can’t set goals if you don’t know how to quantify the results. That’s all well and good, but what is a successful score? It turns out that it’s drastically different from industry to industry. That’s why we surveyed Ys using the NPS system to get an idea of how they’re doing.

If you’re looking for a path to growth, these scores are a pretty good place to start. It’s certainly not the whole picture, though. We know that YMCA provides communities with all kinds of services. So we went a step further with NPS. We dug into how members felt about different types of programs.

This is just a glimpse of how NPS can help a YMCA or any business for that matter. We recently released a comprehensive benchmark report detailing how top performers are beefing up their member retention for 2020. It’ll give you best practices, tips and tricks, and ideas for your own strategy that you can use right now.

We’d love for you to check it out here and come learn with Listen360 and the 2019 Customer Loyalty Report.

So, by now you’ve probably read our long-awaited customer loyalty benchmark! Pretty good stuff, right?

If not, that’s OK. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look, or if you did and it was just a lot to take in, here are some CX appetizers for you. We’re serving up some bite-sized lessons, and maybe after a taste, you’ll go for the whole benchmark entrée.

2020 Trends in Customer Loyalty Strategy

Business Priorities – What do companies value most this year?

More than half of our respondents indicated that “happy customer” is a top driver of business growth. It was no surprise then that nearly 3 out of 5 reported being “extremely committed” to providing a superior CX  with 92% overall committed to at least “highly committed.”

Higher performing brands displayed stronger commitments to a superior CX overall, and they put more emphasis on brand reputation. Oddly enough, a whopping 40% of businesses reported having NO formal CX strategy whatsoever. That’s odd… Pretty much everyone said they were dedicated to it, but only about half put their money where their mouths were. 

Guess who was most likely to have a firm strategy in place? The highest performing brands, of course.

CX Strategy – What are they doing about those priorities?

Those top brands are benchmarking CX. They know where they stand, who they’re beating, and how they can improve. The number one benchmarking tool used by high performers was the Net Promoter System followed by loyalty metrics and CSAT. Consistent customer feedback collection and analysis trended highly with top brands.

Operations and marketing departments are typically responsible for managing and using customer feedback data. Most companies are integrating this data into their operations and leveraging it for brand reputation purposes. 

Corporate, regional, and local managers have access to customer feedback data with senior managers most commonly dealing with reports and action. 

Higher performing brands are monitoring and analyzing customer feedback in real-time or at least on a daily basis. 

Taking Action – What are they doing with the data?

Customer feedback analysis is primarily used to improve CX on an operational level and follow up with dissatisfied customers. The results of these reports are discussed on a weekly to monthly basis, and goals based on this data are set at a brand level. Businesses are also using reports from individual locations or service areas to improve frontline behavior and interaction.

Higher performing brands are more likely to use feedback in their marketing and PR communications. They share and discuss trending issues in feedback on an ad-hoc basis to keep with the real-time mentality. Top brands try to make sure that employees understand the results of customer feedback and are equipped to take action in response. 

There’s More – How much more?

A lot more. I couldn’t spoil your appetite before the main course, could I? The gist of this sampler platter was: highest-performing brands are collecting customer feedback, they’re collecting it regularly, and they’re using it in multiple strategies across their networks. 

The full report has tons of valuable data and some tips and tricks about best practices to help you get started at your business. We hope you’ll check it out and learn more with us about how to increase your customer loyalty!

Click here to download the full report.

Businesses who provided services for customers’ children have a very unique relationship with customers as compared to any other industry. Even within the industry as a whole, there are many different expectations of the different types of children’s services and extracurricular programs. In the spirit of our best practices benchmark and finding out what makes customers tick, we put together some valuable industry-specific data to get you thinking about retention and customer experience.

We analyzed over 138,000 customer responses to NPS surveys to find out what is most important to customer experience in the child services industry. Our goal was to find specific reasons customers find for leaving a business as well as the things that increase retention and referrals. We broke them down into 3 categories.

  1. Barriers
    These are the minimum expectations of your customers. Barriers will irritate customers if they are performed poorly, but they don’t have any positive effects if performed well. For example, customers expect businesses to be accommodating of things like timing and scheduling, but they’ll only take notice when there is an issue. Basically, you’d better get these right for the sake of retention.
  2. Delighters
    These are the “wow” factors that your customers didn’t expect. These show your customers you’ve gone above and beyond. Delighters improve retention when performed well, but there is no negative impact if they’re absent or performed poorly. For example, if you do something like a special customer appreciation event with a free class or service, customers will be very impressed. If you don’t, they won’t notice; they weren’t expecting it anyway.
  3. Drivers
    These factors go both ways. If you miss the mark with drivers, customers will notice in a negative way. If you perform drivers well, retention increases. For example, parents prefer consistency. If they notice a high turnover rate in your staff, they’ll start to worry. If they see familiar smiling faces of your staff on a regular basis, they’ll feel more comfortable and are more likely to stick around.

Barriers to Avoid

It is critical to know which elements of the customer experience are deal-breakers and ensure those elements are delivered at the expected level. Listen360’s analysis identified the top barriers for each children’s services industry segment.

Poor instructors or coaches, minimal communication ability, and lack of consistency are the most common barriers across the children’s services industry. While seamless communication between the teacher and the parent likely won’t be the driving reason a customer recommends your business, the failure to communicate with the parent will decrease loyalty and could lead to negative word of mouth in the community. These barriers are the minimum requirements for you to establish yourself and survive in the industry.

Wowing Your Customers

In Listen360’s analysis of the key drivers and delighters, two crucial key drivers emerged as most common: the instructors, coaches, or teachers and the lessons, classes, or curriculum. High performance of these drivers and delighters has the power to lead to positive brand reputation amongst current and potential customers. However, poorly performing these key drivers could have a significant negative impact on the way a child’s parents view your services.

If you want to truly differentiate your service from the competition, go beyond the barriers and the key drivers and provide a service that delights. Of the top 20 attributes Listen360 identified, 3 of them are considered delighters, with the potential to have the highly sought after wow factor. These attributes include:

  1. The Curriculum
    Parents look for a curriculum or program that is structured, stimulating, comprehensive, and effective.
  2. The Staff
    They want to see staff and/or teachers that are friendly, patient, and nurturing. Additionally, as mentioned, parents prefer consistency; higher turnover tends to be a greater concern for parents.
  3. The Facility
    Customers are searching for a facility or space that is clean, safe, and conveniently located.

Putting these attributes at the forefront of your business model will help solidify loyalty amongst your customer base and build the foundation for brand advocacy.

While these wow factors may not be baseline requirements to compete in today’s children’s services industry, over time there is a high likelihood that these attributes will be demoted to key drivers, where, for example, the expectation will be that the curriculum or program is structured, stimulating, comprehensive, and effective. It’s important to constantly communicate with your customers and collect feedback on your business to make sure you’re performing not only to satisfy their expectations but exceed them.

For more best practices and a deeper dive into customer retention, check out our free 2019 Customer Loyalty Benchmark Report.

The fitness industry has a very unique relationship with customers as compared to any other industry. Even within the industry as a whole, there are many different expectations from customers based on the type of studio, gym, or class they’re choosing in an increasingly diverse market. In the spirit of our upcoming best practices benchmark and finding out what makes customers tick, we put together some valuable industry-specific data to get you thinking about retention and customer experience. 

We analyzed 9,900 member responses to NPS surveys at 66 randomly selected fitness brands over a 6 month period. Our goal was to find out what sorts of things were dissatisfying members as well as those that would increase customer retention. We broke the findings down into 3 categories: barriers, delighters, and drivers.

  1. Barriers

These are the minimum expectations of members. Barriers will irritate members if they are performed poorly, but they don’t have any positive effects if performed well. For example, members expect bathrooms to be clean, but they’ll only notice when the facilities are dirty. Basically, you’d better get these right no matter what.

Notice that barriers vary based on the type of business, but similar themes run throughout the industry. For the more intimate fitness experiences, space seems to be a big issue, so it pays to monitor class size and equipment availability. Price is obviously an issue to every customer, but you can mitigate that by adding value to your service or location. Pay attention to our next two categories for ideas on how to increase value.

  1. Delighters

These are the “wow” factors that your members didn’t expect. These show your members you’ve gone above and beyond. Delighters improve retention when performed well, but there is no negative impact if they’re absent or performed poorly. For example, if you do something like a special member appreciation event with a free class, members will be very impressed. If you don’t, they won’t notice; they weren’t expecting it anyway.

A friendly attitude seems to go a long way here, so collecting feedback and training employees on interactions could be a booster. Cultivating an inviting space with helpful, happy employees will be most important when it comes to surprising your members with excellence.

  1. Drivers

These factors go both ways. If you miss the mark with drivers, customers will notice in a negative way. If you perform drivers well, retention increases. For example, if the staff is rude or inattentive, members may not return. If your staff provides exceptional service, they will notice and retention will increase.

Instructors, coaches, and staff are big factors in this category. Getting feedback from your members can help improve training and reveal which sorts of workouts and classes are most effective at increasing retention and member engagement.

If you found this helpful and want to learn more about improving your CX and retention, check out our 2019 Customer Loyalty Benchmark on best practices from top brands in your industry.

CLICK HERE to read the report.


If you do even a slight amount of online business, you know by now that Google and your business are pretty firmly linked. With over 90% of online experiences starting on a search engine, SEO and PPC have become much more than buzzwords. They’re ingrained in how we do business. In a recent effort to make information more accessible, though, Google has changed the game. It’s becoming more difficult for customers to find your business organically. Here are the reasons why and how you can prepare for them.

Zero-Click Searches

If you search for something like “weather in Atlanta” or even the term “SEO,” you’ll notice the Google shift I’m talking about. Rather than immediately offering you links to other sites, Google scrapes that information and displays it directly on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This format is starkly different from the Google of years past, and it’s unintentionally killing clicks. When someone finds all or at least enough displayed at the top of the page and stops there, it’s a zero-click search.

This new face of Google’s SERP is extremely convenient for the casual searcher cutting down on clicks. But for those of us who rely on those clicks, it’s a major speedbump. In 2018, over 34% of desktop searches resulted in zero clicks, and mobile zero-click searches were above 60%. As Google becomes more of a portal than a search engine, businesses are going to need to improve their approach to SEO to keep getting clicks that drive purchases. There are 3 relatively easy things you can start doing to boost your efforts.

1. Write Long Tail Content

This exercise will not only help you get more valuable clicks, but it will help you understand how to set your brand apart from others in your space in general. “The Long Tail” refers to more specific keywords or phrases that go beyond the generics of your product or service. In other words, you want to think about the small things that distinguish you from your competitors. 

For example, if you own a salon, you don’t want every title or keyphrase to be generically about salons and hair. It helps to branch out a bit to appeal to a wider variety of searches. People who search more specifically are much more likely to make a purchase, so it helps to target those people with more finely-tuned language. A good SEO practice to remember is to link your long tail material to your mainstream content to help Google crawlers make sense of your site.

2. Analyze Customer Responses 

If you’re doing any type of surveying or customer feedback, take a look at the language your customers are using. If you can establish a pattern of what customers are looking for in your experience and even what they searched for when they found your business, you can tailor your content accordingly. You will discover the features and specific language you can highlight in your content that will appeal to the searches of your most likely customers.

3. Educate Your Team

SEO vocabulary and practices, at least on a rudimentary level, should be commonplace among your staff. Present your findings and best practices to team members to ensure that everyone is writing authoritative content that stands a chance of showing up on SERPs. The more clarity and authority your copy has, the more likely Google is to pick it up or at least scrape from your site and feature at the top of the page. 

Game theory is a fascinating corner of mathematics that is used for everything from predicting social behavior to geopolitics and to, of course, business. It deals with the strategies and outcomes of individuals when faced with certain scenarios or dilemmas. As predicting outcomes and weighing risks are integral to economics, it’s no surprise that game theory plays a role in business and helps in decision making. We recently saw an example of how these mathematical scenarios affect people’s decisions while working on a survey for a benchmark report. Let’s dig into the findings and what they could mean for your business.

The Dilemma

While researching for our benchmark report, we contacted and surveyed hundreds of businesses across a wide variety of industries. The biggest speed bump with surveys, of course, is getting people to actually respond.

The questionnaires are naturally anonymous,  but we encountered some hesitation when it came to the idea of sharing best practices to be published. Why should you put your tricks of the trade out there for your competitors to see? There’s a good reason why you should, and it brings us to our theoretical game: the stag hunt.

The Game

The game starts with a simple choice for the two players: will you hunt for stag or hare? The two hunters have to work together to get a stag, but one hunter alone can get a hare. Neither hunter knows which the other will choose, so there is a risk of getting nothing if a player chooses stag and the other chooses hare. It seems obvious to protect your own interests and choose hare, but a small hare will yield much less meat than a stag. So which should you pick?

The stag in our situation is a comprehensive benchmark report with valuable data. If you’re familiar with the power of benchmarking, you know that loads of businesses use them to improve their practices and jumpstart innovation. The only way we can get a complete report here, though, is if the players cooperate. The act of choosing the stag is like agreeing to respond to a survey about best practices. The hare, for us, is not participating in benchmarking and going it alone to figure out the best way to do things. While it seems less risky, not participating decreases the potential reward for everyone.

The Outcome

As an exercise, this game is played with both hunters oblivious to the choice of the other. While an excellent demonstration, it doesn’t necessarily reflect how things work in the business world. We don’t operate in a closed system, and by forming relationships and acquiring knowledge, we literally change the game.

You may remember the film A Beautiful Mind in which Russell Crowe portrays brilliant mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. In the Oscar-winning biopic, a young Nash finds himself in a juvenile barroom dilemma with his classmates: who gets to go for the prettiest girl? In a moment of dramatized inspiration, Nash realizes that by competing for just one girl the friends will block each other and scare off the rest of the girls.

It dawns on him that the best outcome will happen when each individual does what’s best for himself and the group. Not just himself. You may want to refresh yourself on the iconic scene for the full effect, but it lends itself to our benchmark situation. When we all consider the strategies of our opponents, collaborate, and act accordingly in an open system, we are much more likely to get the proverbial stag. Closed-mindedness and failure to consider others’ strategies will get only a hare or two if anything at all. It’s up to you to change the game.

The Benchmark

As I mentioned above, we are working on a comprehensive benchmark about best practices in customer experience to be released this summer! It covers tons of industries and includes info from hundreds of businesses. Follow our blog and stay tuned to see how you can get your hands on the report. Reach out to us if you’d like to know more about best practices and strategizing for your customer experience.

A customer feedback system is an important tool to have for any growing business, but the search for the right one can be difficult. There are many bells and whistles as far as software features go, but when it comes down to it, you just need to remember the 5 A’s.

It’s difficult to listen and respond to all of your customers while you’re focused on growing your business. Less-sophisticated applications might work for a while, but the task becomes a bit overwhelming as you start to scale. Automating feedback requests and collection will ensure consistency across your network and allow you to get responses in real-time. Following up with customers quickly and efficiently is paramount.

Compiling the data from your feedback efforts will allow you to see how your customer base as a whole feels about your brand. This is the premise of the Net Promoter System, a research-driven invention of Bain & Company that has become the golden standard of customer engagement. Distilling your feedback into a score for one and all locations helps set benchmarks, goals, and action plans.

These days, online presence is everything. If a customer feedback system isn’t rolling up to your online reviews, it isn’t worth considering. You want to be able to share the good things customers are saying with your employees and prospective customers. Studies show that internally sharing the praise from your customers will improve morale and productivity of your employees. This boosts their interactions with customers and contributes to better company culture. Amplifying great feedback forms a cycle of positivity that generates better online reviews, more referrals, and attracts better talent during your hiring process.

Data is undeniably a driving force behind many markets. Tracking and understanding the data behind your business gives you a significant leg up on your competition. A customer feedback system that uses features like text analysis to establish patterns in customers’ responses can help pinpoint best practices and areas for improvement. Brands like Orangetheory Fitness and Sport Clips incorporate these findings into their operations at a managerial level and have improved training and customer-facing behaviors as a result.

One of the most important things about capitalizing on customer feedback is making sure it’s distributed throughout your entire network. Owners, managers, or team members at different locations should be able to access dashboards so they can monitor their specific customer bases. Having access to this vital information creates a sense of accountability and empowerment on the front lines. Those who interact with customers have all the power to shape the relationship your brand has with those customers, so they should be armed with this powerful resource.

If you stick with this list and check all the boxes, you can’t go wrong. If you’re interested in learning more about customer feedback systems and how they can help your business, click here.