re·fined

68% of consumers would stop using a local business if they found incorrect information online

When was the last time you looked your company up online? Read your own website? Checked out how you look on Google or how you show up on Google Maps? It may have been a long time since you looked for information on your business but your customers, and even more importantly, your potential customers are looking you up every day and what they find may be keeping them from visiting your business.

According to Bright Local, 80% of consumers lose trust in local businesses if they find incorrect or inconsistent contact details when they look a company up online.  It may seem like a rare occurrence, but according to the survey, quite a few people have had problems with incorrect information.

  • 36% have called a wrong number for a business that they found online.
  • 25% visited a business only to find it didn’t actually offer the product or service that was advertised online.
  • 24% arrived either too early or too late because the hours they found online weren’t correct.  (I’m surprised that isn’t a bigger number because this has happened to me many times.)

Overall, 71% of consumers have had a negative experience because of incorrect local business information. That’s a huge portion of your consumer base that could be misled because you haven’t checked out your details.

Let me tell you a little story. Yesterday afternoon, I used Google Maps on my phone to find a restaurant in an area I’d never visited before. It told me there was a deli only 6 minutes away, so I followed the directions and ended up in the middle of a business park. Weird, but I figured it was one of those small shops that cater to the businesses in the area. I was starving, so why not?

Why not? Because the business wasn’t where Google said it was. I don’t know if they went out of business or they didn’t have their suite number on the address. They didn’t have any images of the deli online so I couldn’t compare it to the buildings in front of me. The more I drove around, the more frustrated I got. I left hungry and frustrated and if there really was a deli at that address, you can bet I’m never to look for them again. They lost me as a customer and the pizza place down the street got my business.

My actions fell in line with the 30% of respondents who said they’d go to a competitor if they had the wrong address for a business. So what does everyone else do in that situation?

43% said they would call the business to confirm the address. I think this is a misleading statistic because it’s dependent on the type of business and the needs of the consumer. In my case, I was simply looking for a place to eat so I wasn’t going to bother digging up a phone number and driving even further out of my way. Now, if I was looking for a doctor’s office or a retail store that was holding a product I wanted, I would have called to ask for directions.

Which leads to yet another problem, particularly for small businesses who can’t afford to lose a single customer; they don’t always have the manpower available to answer the phone when it rings. Sounds weird, but I’m amazed by how many business calls go straight to voicemail. Before you pay for a receptionist, Bright Local says to consider your customer demographics. The survey found that women and customers over 55 were more likely to call for help. If these are your people, make sure you have hours and directions on your voicemail or hire someone to answer the phone.

If your audience is primarily young males, don’t worry about it. Male consumers said they’d rather give up looking than call for help.

As a business owner, we know it’s not always your fault when Google says your store is on North 5th Street when it’s really #5 on North Street. Was it the deli’s fault that their listing was bad? Probably not, but they’re the ones who lost my $20, not Google Maps.

Only 18% of those surveyed said that bad information was the fault of the listing site. 31% said the fault lies completely with the business and 51% gives you half the blame and that pretty much still leaves you in out in the cold. Think about it – are your customers going to stop using Google because they got your hours wrong? No, but they will get mad at you.

Bottom Line: 68% of consumers would stop using a local business if they found incorrect information in online directories – and it doesn’t stop there. 50% of consumers said they would lose faith in a business if they saw poor quality or out-of-date photos online. This doesn’t just apply to your website, outdated social media pages look just as bad.

The good news is that this is an easy fix. Follow this link to update your business on Google. Then double check your own website and social media pages. Update the photos, make sure your address, directions and phone number are clear and easy to find on the page. Check that your hours of operation are correct and that they match the season (if your hours are different in the summer than during the holidays, note it on the page!)

Most of all, make sure your site looks alive and well, otherwise customers are apt to think that your business is out of business and then they’ll take their business somewhere else.