How to use your brand’s Search Engine Results Page for customer service

Marcus Thümmler, Principal Sales Engineer

When you perform a Google search, the page that pops up is called the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Traditionally, digital marketers have focused heavily on optimizing the content on their brand’s SERP for things like brand awareness and SEO — all in pursuit of driving traffic and revenue. Their customer service and customer experience counterparts, focused on resolving customer inquiries and driving customer satisfaction, might not even be familiar with the concept of a SERP.

We’re here to change that, because your brand’s SERP is an essential customer support service.

Why your SERP matters for customer service

When you Google your brand’s name, you’ll likely find a link to your homepage, a link to a Wikipedia page or recent 3rd party media coverage, and links to your brand’s social media channels.

But, if you Google your brand’s name plus “customer service,” the SERP looks different. You’ll likely still see the link to your brand’s homepage, and but you’ll also likely see different results related to your contact information or support portals or crucially, the phone number for your brand’s customer service team.

See, for example, what comes up when you search for “Khoros customer service:”

Khoros SERP

That phone number may seem innocuous enough, and Google is likely doing a good job predicting consumers’ search intents and making it easier for them to get in touch without having to click into different “contact us” pages. But that innocuous little convenience can have a massive impact on your brand’s support operations: when Google makes it easier for customers to call you, you’re going to get more calls. A lot more.

High call volume is rarely a good thing, especially for a contact center that may not have the resources to maintain SLAs during spikes, or the agility to change staffing and automations on the fly. Worst of all, phone support often is probably your most expensive, least efficient channel for handling customer service inquiries. Where possible, most brands and consumers would prefer to resolve their inquiries in self-service portals, web chat, mobile messaging, or social media messaging — all important parts of the digital-first customer service funnel — and all lower cost on more customer-friendly channels.

Tailor your SERP to optimize journeys & reduce costs

Claim and enhance your Google Knowledge Panel

It’s expensive to control the top search entries. Brands spend thousands of dollars per month, or more, for paid ads. They build entire departments to maximize organic search engine value and capture the coveted top spots. And for good reason: according to Forbes, the first five SERP results receive 67.6% of clicks, but the remaining five receive just 3.73% of clicks.

The Google Knowledge Panel is an easy-to-manage piece of SERP real-estate that gets high visibility without expensive tactics. It’s available at no cost, and you don’t have to outbid your competition to control it. You can make the most of your brand’s Knowledge Panel and drive traffic — and even revenue — to your brand by taking control of this often overlooked space.

Virtually everything in the knowledge panel can be edited by your brand once you claim the space. In order to claim it, someone will need to be verified by Google as an authorized representative for your company. First, search for your company in Google, then scroll down to the bottom of the panel and click “Claim this Knowledge Panel.” Once you are a verified representative, you can manage the information in the panel.

The next step is to determine what information you want to highlight in the panel. You can get inspiration from the Knowledge Panels of some of the world’s top brands. Placing online chat above the phone number to encourage chats instead of calls is a common and effective strategy. And, if you search from your mobile device, you can click to call any top brand you choose to see if they have Apple Business Chat or Google messaging turned on — an effective strategy to deflect expensive calls to more efficient messaging channels. If your brand has a highly optimized social care strategy, this is a great place to promote your social media channels with a row of clickable icons for customers to select their preferred channel.

What you don’t include in your brand’s Knowledge Panel can be just as important as what you do include, and it’s crucial to have control over both. Many companies with unclaimed panels show pieces of information that might be better kept private, such as the number of employees in the company or annual revenue. By claiming the Knowledge Panel, you can prioritize information that supports your company’s goals, such as driving registrations for upcoming events or providing holiday business hours to reduce calls.

Build a Community that dominates SEO rankings

Pointing customers in need of support to your brand’s online community is another powerful way to reduce phone calls while improving the customer experience. Top brands like Microsoft and Samsung use communities to support customers’ self-service efforts and reduce the lift for their customer care teams. Driving SERP care inquiries to your community can bring more customers to your owned properties, offer a place for customers to easily chat with each other or brand representatives, and make your brand easier to find online.

Your community can serve answers to common care questions right in your brand’s customer service SERP and even make FAQ sections. Answers to long tail questions can also be surfaced right on the first page of search results.

Create messaging entry points on your SERP to support both service and sales journeys

The solution here is not to hide your customer service phone number (which is historically a very bad idea). Instead, guide your customers to more efficient channels — the digital-first ones they likely already prefer.

Promote your web chat everywhere

Take any existing real-estate you actively manage on your SERP page and add a clear link to your brand’s web chat. You can do this on your brand’s Knowledge Panel, or even on your more popular pages’ Google SiteLinks: those small sub-listings that appear under the main search results on some pages.

While these new entry points may drive incrementally more traffic, these are conversations you want to have. They’re either with customers that prefer chat and were previously using a less ideal channel, or they’re new conversations that weren’t happening anywhere, but based on channel visibility or ease-of-use they’re now possible. Those truly new conversations unlock nascent value in your customer base: either net new opportunities to deliver amazing service and create loyalty, or net new sales conversations.

Deflect calls coming from organic search & location results

Remember how easy it was to find your brand’s phone number? Give customers the option to message you instead by turning on Google’s Business Messages. With it, you can place entry points in a variety of organic search results where phone numbers typically appear such as Google One Box and Featured Snippets.

For consumers searching on mobile, location-based results are frequently included in the SERP. These results pull your brand’s Google My Business profile, the one that appears in Google Maps with info like your address and reviews, into the search results page. With Google’s Business Messages, you can place a “Message” entry point right alongside the typical “Directions” or “Call” buttons in these profiles. Especially customers searching for a specific location, can dramatically reduce call volume or make it easier to interact with a specific local business.

Create ads that drive to conversational sales experiences

Google now supports the ability to drive directly from paid search ads (that appear at the top of the SERP) to a Google’s Business Messages conversation. These ads typically see higher clickthrough rates, and they attract traffic with a higher degree of urgency or purchasing intent. After driving customers to a messaging conversation, a chatbot can easily personalize engagements to the specific product or service a customer is interested in, and offer your brand’s product information in rich conversational shopping experiences.

Midco SERP

Khoros can supercharge your SERP for customer service

Your Google Search results page is their most important landing page. This is why it’s critical to get the most of it. With Khoros, brands can streamline communications with consumers while creating a one-stop shop for the most important information. This means having a results page complete with conversational ads, self-service portals, and messaging entry points.

We help brands deflect calls and efficiently manage digital-first conversations — whether they’re on web chat, reviews on Google My Business profile, or rich mobile conversations on Google’s Business Messages.

A Google Search results page is free, yet so powerful. So why not take advantage of everything it can do for you and your customers and your brand?

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