B2B Services Need Reputation Management Too

Recently I spoke with Apoorv Dwivedi, the head of an agency that specializes in servicing accountants and financial advisors. He noted that his clients get very few, if any, reviews because there aren’t many reviews to get. Then he asked me this:

Can B2B financial services that have a very small number of clients who are largely the same year to year benefit from a reputation management product such as GatherUp? 

Well, the short answer is yes. Now, why and how…

Fewer Reviews Available Means Each Is Mightier

It is true that getting reviews for a financial agency or tax planner is less common than getting reviews for a restaurant or a jeweler but that makes their acquisition all the more important. 

Google local search for “business accountants” returns just two results with available reviews
Business Advisors earned just 13 reviews over the last 3 years to give them the highest review count of any result for this search

Very, very few businesses ever need to stop attracting new customers. And just because your business might only be able to generate 1 review every other month or quarter, that is usually enough to stand head and shoulders above the competition (that is getting far fewer). Particularly if you stay at it for several years. 

B2B Reviews Help to Convert High-Cost Purchases

The first question that always needs answering when assessing a low volume business and their use of a reputation platform is the potential ROI. For most financial planners and accountants the lifetime value of a new client is significant. For example, I spend roughly $1000 a year on just my personal taxes and another $2500 for business taxes. Most businesses spend between $2000 and $8000 per year.

When reviews were shown on higher-priced items the conversion rate increased 380%

Business owners tend to spend more time researching vendors and options ahead of high-cost purchases. The decision also has more risk for them – it’s important that they pick the right financial advisor because the legal implications could be huge if they get it wrong. There are easily thousands of dollars on the line.

In selecting these types of advisory firms many businesses put an even larger emphasis on whether the vendor is trustworthy. Because business financials can be a very personal thing, owners want to know that they can trust this person with confidential information. Reviews can speak to a buyer on this personal level.

Customer reviews can speak to shoppers on a personal level

Even when a buyer looks to other trusted advisors for recommendations, many still go online to validate their decision by looking at reviews and business websites. Amongst younger buyers, the reliance on online reviews can be even more significant.

Once I pick an accountant I stay with them for many years. Thus even acquiring one new client per year based on their reviews and reputation makes the ROI of reputation management significant. This calculation will be different for every B2B business but the logic is the same.

Where Reviews Make a Difference for B2B Businesses

Understanding your customer’s journey is critical to identifying which platform to use and the ideal process for requesting reviews. B2B businesses can be more complex and have longer purchasing cycles. They are also more likely to have prospective buyers visit a business website before making a purchase decision.

In search results…

While this is not the type of purchasing decision a consumer is likely to make by just looking at local search results on Google and then clicking to call, what they see there could easily instill doubt or make them hesitate.

Google local search results for “accountants maple grove mn” returns results showing low review counts

The results in the image above illustrate the impact reviews, even in small quantities, can have in local search. Search results heavily emphasize reputation and could increase a buyer’s comfort level with the choice that they are making. Just over a handful of reviews makes a difference when competitors have none.

In review content…

The voice of a customer can be especially compelling in a review of something as complex as financial services. No one expects perfection but having customers detail the steps a firm went to to solve an issue can instill a great deal of confidence even before the potential new client has stepped into your office.

Reviews like this often “pre-sell” potential clients

On your website…

Not only can reviews help you stand out at in comparison to your competitors in the search results but on your website as well. Reading stories on a website from current clients, who are people just like them, can be very compelling to a prospective customer on their journey. What better way to explain the intricacies of your business than in the words of the clients themselves. 

Display reviews on your website for social proof and fresh content about hard-to-describe services

B2B Customer’s Experience Matters Too

The need for GatherUp goes well beyond review stars, social proof, and fresh content for services pages even for those in “staid” industries. As soon as your office hires its first employee, your issues and concerns about customer care are the same as any other business. 

Customer experience and brand reputation in the market place, both online and offline via word of mouth, should be a primary concern. 

  • How do you know if that new employee is treating clients with the same care as you have all of these years? 
  • How do you know that your client is as happy now as they were the first year they hired you? 
  • And how do you know which of your procedures and processes your clients find painful or less than useful? 

Creating a business with a true customer focus is only possible if you continually and regularly take the time to ask your clients what they think and how you can improve. 

The Impact chart is part of GatherUp’s Insights Report powered by IBM Watson

Even with great reviews, you can always identify things that can be improved. Our Insights Report, powered by IBM Watson, provides sentiment analysis to uncover where there might be problems in reviews with an overall positive rating.

In conclusion…

Managing your brand’s reputation and understanding the customer experience is valuable to businesses with any number of customers. In industries where sales cycles are long, lifetime value is high, and retention is paramount, become the firm that cares about and carefully monitors your customer’s experience. It’s the best way to ensure that once acquired, your new client will be yours for life.

So yes, B2B services with a small number of recurring clients can benefit from reputation management… and now you know how.

About The Author

Mike Blumenthal is a co-founder of GatherUp and helps oversee our research, industry insight and agency offering. Mike has long been regarded as the foremost expert on local search and Google Maps, earning the nickname “Professor Maps”. Mike also co-founded Local University, which provides small business and agency training in sustainable local search marketing. His motto: All Local All the Time.  He writes at his blog and does a twice a week LocalU podcast about Local marketing. 

2 Replies to “B2B Services Need Reputation Management Too”

  1. Thanks Mike! It was an absolute pleasure getting your expert opinion on this and having it backed up by plenty of data and science. We work with many local financial firms – accountants, bookkeepers, tax filers, real estate lawyers, etc. These professionals are often actively involved in their communities and their reputation means everything to them. At the same time I’m constantly amazed by how many well established firms have only a small handful of reviews online. Some of these folks have been in business for 10-20 years or more, but you’d never know it by looking at their online reviews! Their years of stellar customer service isn’t apparent online because they haven’t done anything about it. What a huge opportunity for established and growing financial professionals!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *