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SMB Trust Index℠ Recap - Q2 2016

By Dan Slagen · Posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2016 · Tagged in General Discussion

SMB Trust Index

If you haven't seen it already, the latest version of Alignable's SMB Trust Index℠ has just been released with current data through Q2 2016! You'll notice now that you can filter brands by category and search for specific brands. In total, the index is up to 37 brands, and if you'd like to learn more about a specific brand or read user reviews, simply click the brand name!

SMB Trust Index

So what does it all mean? To learn a bit more about the SMB Trust Index℠ and how to perceive the current data, read on…

Keep in mind that in order to be included in the SMB Trust Index℠ , brands must acquire a certain number of ratings:

- 25 ratings or more – Brand is included, but score is not displayed

- 50 ratings or more – Brand is included and score is displayed

SMB Trust Index

You're at a networking event, function or party. Local businesses are everywhere, what are they talking about? After the usual catching up, real discussions start to happen. They talk about growing revenue, the impact of mobile, finding trustworthy brands/vendors…etc

When these local business owners (50% of the nation's GDP) start talking about your brand, what do they say?

Keep in mind not all of these business owners are paying customers of your brand. Some have gone through your free trial, have been pitched by a sales rep, interacted with your marketing content or perhaps they were a former customer that has now churned.

While the traditional NPS system identifies what customers are saying about your brand, it doesn't capture the larger impact going on, which is what the local business community as a whole is saying about your brand.

This is a critical difference, because when local business owners are considering a new brand/vendor, what do they do? They ask a fellow business owner what they know about your brand or if they know someone who they could talk to about your brand.

"Alignable's NPS data provide a unique snapshot of how brands and vendors in the small business market are perceived," said Greg Sterling, VP of Strategy for the LSA. "Some of these findings were entirely consistent with expectations and some were a surprise." - Greg Sterling, VP Strategy for the LSA

Category Insights

Starting with the categories, it's interesting to note the range of scores from a positive 39 to a negative 57.

Positive NPS Categories:

- Payments
- Email Marketing
- Digital Marketing
- Accounting
- Ecommerce
- Social Marketing
- Website

Negative NPS Categories:

- Crowdfunding
- Lending
- Communication Services
- Loyalty/Rewards

Below includes the list of brands broken out by category that were included in the SMB Trust Index℠ this quarter.

- N/A = Brand had not been added to the SMB Trust Index℠
- Trend = Brand did not have enough ratings for the score to be published

What you'll notice is that the majority of brands NPS scores have gone down over the past few quarters, why is that? When we first launched the NPS, we only had a few thousand local business owners involved in the ratings, these were our early adopters. It's understandable that the early adopters overall have a more positive outlook on new technologies as opposed to the late majority or laggards. As we charge through Q3, we don't expect as much volatility, unless brands are making concerted efforts to impact their score one-way or another.

Brand Insights & Rankings Q2 2016

"We're thrilled small business owners feel comfortable sharing their sentiment towards SMB brands on Alignable, in ways that help other business owners make great decisions and succeed." – Eric Groves, CEO at Alignable

Positive NPS Scores

- Wordpress: 50

- Mailchimp: 46

- Google 46:

- 45

- Square: 42

- Instagram: 42

- Twitter: 41

- PayPal: 39

- LinkedIn : 38

- Pinterest: 37

- Intuit Quickbooks : 32

- American Express: 28

- Facebook: 26

- 1&1 : 21

- GoDaddy: 20

- Shopify: 20

- Hootsuite: 18

- Constant Contact: 18

- Insightly: 18

- FreshBooks: 11

- Squarespace: 2

Negative NPS Scores

- Weebly: -7

- Wix: -14

- Verizon: -9

- Foursquare: -14

- GoFundMe: -16

- Ondeck: -31

- Comcast: -58

- Groupon: -57

- -62

- Yelp: -65

Trending Brands

- Aweber Trending

- Bigcommerce Trending

- Buffer Trending

- Indiegogo Trending

- Kickstarter Trending

- Wave Trending

The local business owner community has spoken! While it's interesting to see the brands that are towards the top of the list vs. the bottom, it's more compelling to understand why certain brands are loved and others are working to improve their perception…Here are a few insights from local business owners, which might help shed some insight into the brand ratings:

Brands With Negative NPS Scores

Not every brand is always going to be loved by local business owners, but it's how the brand reacts to the community, which is more important than the actual score. For instance, how is the score trending over time? Is the brand making a concerted effort to improve their value and experience? Let's take a look at a few examples.

What Local Business Owners Think of Yelp

- Negative review

"I ran into a problem with Pizza Hut a couple of years ago. As in not showing up and not giving me my money back. After leaving several messages for the manager over a 2 month period, each time with a promise of a call back, I went to Yelp and posted my experience. My post was immediately removed and right away an email from Pizza Hut Corp. letting me know that manager would be calling. By then of course I wanted nothing to do with Pizza Hut, but I was floored by Yelp removing my post. When I inquired as to why, I couldn't get a response. I've not used Yelp since."

- Positive review

"Our business have been with Yelp for several years. I must say that we receive a lot of new customers based on the reviews that we have. With that said, I do not appreciate the fact that Yelp tries to be creative in manipulating the reviews and strong arming businesses into paying for the presence on yelp."

What Local Business Owners Think of Comcast

- Negative review

"Personally with my business, I found them to be more expensive and had more down time with the internet. I was constantly waiting for it to buffer and with a business I can't be doing that. I switched to Frontier, about two months ago and found better service at a cheaper price. Also Comcast does not seem to understand that I have already cancelled them and still are trying to charge me. That is not a way to win me back that is for sure."

- Positive review

"I would recommend Comcast because it meets our needs. The service is reliable, fast and allows us therefore, to be efficient. I have also seen an improvement in the customer service in general since we signed on and I appreciate that."

What Local Business Owners Think of Wix

- Negative review:

"Easy to build site. Help desk is awful."

- Positive review

"Super easy to use. Brand new templates that will really set you apart from everyone else."

What's interesting is that for each of these brands with a low NPS score on the SMB Trust Index, there are plenty of people that have positive things to say…? One thing that all of the comments highlight is speed/ease of use. Local business owners want things fast, and most brands on this list offer a fairly speedy process to get started. But where things start to drop off is in relation to trust, quality and experience.

- Trust -If your brand is operating in a questionable manner, or not truly putting business owners first, then watch out.

- Quality -Getting a local business owner to do something once isn't anything to be proud of as a brand. Offering a quality product that has business owners coming back time and time again is often what sets the higher ranking brands apart from the lower rankings ones (unless they have a monopoly).

- Experience - Business owners are going to have questions. If you don't have a customer service center that's legitimately high quality, it will come back to haunt you. We recently ran a survey and asked local business owners what would make them stay a customer forever with their insurance customer, the best customer service or the best pricing. Guess what they said? It wasn't price.

Brands With Positive NPS Scores

What makes a leading brand loved by local business owners? Why is it that Mailchimp, Google, Square….etc are at the top of the list? Let's take a look at some comments, both positive and negative/areas of improvement to hear what the community has to say!

What Local Business Owners Think of Mailchimp

- Positive review

"I switched from another service provider and have been impressed by the depth of their offerings - ability to use specific data elements directly from my online store to improve email relevance and to provide an appropriate frequency to my communications, even when I've forgotten to take action. Their "Freemium" model allows a small business to start the basics at zero/low cost and expand as their comfort and success and resources allow!"

- Negative review

"Mailchimp is a good service but, if they decide your emails have too many bounces or opt-outs they will cut you off without notification. I would recommend Emma. This service is easier to use, if you have a lot of bounces on a campaign they will email you and make suggestions about your lists. I use Emma now for both of my businesses and have found them much more human to work with."

What Local Business Owners Think of Google

- Positive review

"Dollar for dollar, Google AdWords is generally the smartest money you'll spend in terms of the mass market. Their reporting and auditing are very strict and they often err on the side of their customers. They also won't charge you when a customer clicks on your ads repeatedly over a 30 day period so you can actually get free clicks from them."

- Negative review

The main issue with Google for business is that it is only focused on local businesses (gas stations, restaurants, hair dressers). Our business has a warehouse in Central Massachusetts, but most of our actual business is in Eastern Massachusetts or throughout Massachusetts. When doing a local search, customers cannot find our specialty business (Home Staging)

What Local Business Owners Think of Square

- Positive review

"I rated Square a 10 because they are so easy to use and understand. Square made credit card processing for the little guy a possibility. Its simple, cut and dry, and makes my life so much easier. Also, besides being super simple and hassle free, they have really been adding some awesome features for managing your business transactions. Their loan program is great for a small, newly established mom and pop. Everything they offer is clearly made with the "little guy" in mind. Simple and hassle free."

- Negative review

"I am not impressed with Square. I have business friends who use it. But I prefer PayPal Here, I have used it for 8 years and love the new mobile unit that takes everything from slider to chip and tap pay."

Interesting. Even the most "loved" brands have detractors, and business owners that have had a negative experience or have a negative perception. But one of the core differences between the leading brands on the SMB Trust Index, is that they have local business owners quickly coming to their defense, completely unprompted. The negative comment about Square for instance, that comment was posted in early July from a local business owner in Georgia. Soon after being posted, a fellow business owner from Indiana responded with the following:

- Response to this negative review from a fellow business owner

"I would not knock Square until you actually use it. We moved from PayPal to Square and love it. Square's chip/Apple/Android reader was actually free after six months of refunded service fees. PayPal was only going refund a partial amount during a three month period. They wanted to make money off of us for the reader. That's ridiculous. Square also deposits funds into our account the next day, which was a large issue we had with PayPal. Yes, we could use the PayPal Mastercard immediately, but we prefer to have the money in our actual bank account."

Do People Come to Your Defense?

Wow! As mentioned, the core difference between our leading brands vs. those towards the bottom of the SMB Trust Index℠ is unprompted local business owners coming to the defense of their beloved brands. For local business owners, the brands they use can make or break their business. They're not picking toothpaste here (apologies to those of you who are passionate about your paste), and selecting one brand over another is a meaningful process that should result in years of loyal service and a positive experience. This is the reason that Trust, Quality and Experience (as shown in the "Brands with negative NPS scores" section) need to be the core focus for brands looking to expand and improve their perception within the local business community.

If you can relate to your brand (regardless if its on the SMB Trust Index℠ right now or not) having a negative perception, or being misrepresented within the local business community, there's good news for you. Your brand image can improve (remember when people hated Netflix?), and it's not secret that the best offense starts with defense.

Play defense - As shown in this report, there's nothing more powerful than brand supporters coming to defense of your brand when negative comments/trends arrive. While having an internal community team is one thing, establishing a following of loyal business owners completely changes the game. Ask yourself, how much are your happiest customers doing for you and could they be doing more? The conversations about your brand are happening right now, there's not stopping that. But what you can do is to help stack the deck in your favor by ensuring that trusted community members are representing your brand accurately. Note that you can't fake this and neither will business owners.

Brand Rising

While certain NPS scores aren't always what brands want to hear, it's encouraging to see those who actively work to improve their customer experience and brand perception. Brand risers include those who saw an increase in their SMB Trust Index℠ Score from quarter to quarter (Q1 to Q2 in this case), and our featured brand risers this quarter include:

- Intuit Quickbooks
- Facebook
- Shopify
- Comcast
- Verizon
- Groupon
- Ondeck

You'll notice that some of these brands already had positive scores (Intuit Quickbooks, Facebook, Shopify) while others negative (Verizon, Comcast Ondeck, Groupon), but the most interesting takeaway is the positive movement, most notably of Ondeck and Groupon. The more brand advocates you have supporting you in the community they better. For instance, here's a passionate business owner, Stacey Riska coming to the defense of Groupon, who after seeing a negative review posted the following:

"Wow, that sounds like a horrible experience! A few suggestions that would definitely make it better the next time:

- Put restrictions on your deal so it can't be used during busy times (like holidays)

- Add the tip to the receipt (or suggested amount) so there is no confusion. Sometimes people just need to be told what to do.

- Seems that you have a very unique type of restaurant - create packages that are based on an "experience" so it's no longer about the price.

- Negotiate a better deal with the daily deal sites. When you do what I suggest in #3 above, you can because the daily deal sites want unique deals to offer that get more people and buyers. I was able to negotiate a 65/35 split (65% to me) and because I wasn't offering the typical "Buy $20 for $10" deal . . . my packages started at $575 . . . I made money on every deal."

Education is Paramount

In that Groupon example, look how far a little education goes! We're not talking about "best practices" here, but rather real examples of what to do and what not to do. Warnings of how you can put yourself and your business at risk. Business owners aren't afraid of risk; they're more risky than most people considering that they launched their own business! As long as the risk is explained in detail in a non-legal jargon manner, the honestly will work in your favor as a local business brand. Don't forget that having a little third party support at your side goes a long way.

See You Next Quarter

Thank you for taking the time to read about the SMB Trust Index℠ and we hope you find the interactive experience here useful! We have big growth plans for the Index, and will continue to add new brands and functionality next quarter and beyond. If you have any questions or would just like to chat, please reach out!

Media Contact:
Dan Slagen
CMO, Alignable
[email address]

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Dan Slagen from Alignable
Boston, MA