Should I Enable Messaging Through Google My Business?
Sometimes, you just don’t feel like picking up the phone. We’ve all been there (well, maybe not all, but certainly most of us). After all, sometimes it’s just easier to shoot off a quick message, especially if you don’t feel like waiting on hold.
That’s why having the option to message your business through your Google My Business listing can be a godsend for phone-phobic customers.
If you’re interested in giving your customers this option, you’ll need to Google My Business app in order to enable, send, and receive messages from your GMB listing, so if you don’t already have it installed, you’ll need to do so before you get started. From the app, select the location you want to manage (only applicable if you have multiple locations). Then tap Customers🡪Messages🡪Turn on.
Messaging is now enabled, and the messaging icon will now appear on your GMB listing. It’s that simple.
What is more complex, however, is the question of whether or not you actually want this feature on your listing. After all, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Is Instant Messaging through GMB Right for My Business?
Normally, taking advantage of every avenue of communication to keep in touch with your customers is a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t you want to give customers the option to send you message? Well, in this case it’s not that simple. While there are undoubtedly some great benefits of enabling messaging through GMB, there are also some potential drawbacks that you’ll need to be aware of before you make that decision:
1. Customer Convenience
It’s ironic, but as people become more and more reliant on their smartphones, they’ve actually become more reluctant to make phone calls. Many people, especially Millennials and Gen Z’ers, prefer texting to calling. That’s why giving them the option to text might actually give you a leg up over your competitors.
2. Personal Touch
Giving customers the option to send an instant message grants them 24/7 access to you and your business. This level of customer service can elevate the customer experience and paint your business in a more positive light.
3. Data Gathering on Common Questions
By allowing customers to easily contact you with questions and comments, you’ll get a better idea of the topics that they’re most interested in. You can then use this insight to inform your marketing strategy and/or improve your business to better appeal to potential customers. For example, if a restaurant owner gets a lot of messages asking about vegan options, she may want to look into expanding her menu and featuring these options more heavily in her social media marketing.
1. Must Be Available at All Times
Once you enable GMB messaging you must be on-call 24/7 to respond to questions. People tend to have a certain expectation with messaging that they don’t associate with calling. While most businesses have certain hours that they are open and will respond to calls, texting has a more casual vibe and therefore it isn’t subject to standard hours of operation. If someone sends a text, they expect you to answer it quickly, no matter if it’s an evening or weekend. Not only that, but Google will display your average response time to show users how long it will likely take to receive a respond to their message. If that wait time is too long, they may just decide not to try at all.
2. Currently No Option for SMS Messaging
As of late 2018, Google announced that it was ending support for messaging through SMS due to the shutdown of its messaging app Allo, which had enabled GMB messaging. Google has yet to offer another solution, and this lack of support for SMS messaging means that using certain tools and products that integrate with SMS is off the table. So as of now, we’re stuck with the app as the only place to send and receive these messages, which may or may not be a big deal for you depending on how you use the GMB app.
3. Currently No Option for Managing Messages on Desktop
This bad news for franchises and agencies. For those business owners with a large number of locations, managing all messages through one app on your phone is not an ideal solution. Also, if you use the Agency GMB dashboard, you won’t be able to access those messages because it is not compatible with the app.
Best Practices for Sending Messages Through GMB
If you’re on the fence about GMB messaging, there’s no harm in giving it a test run. You can always disable messaging if you decide it’s not right for you. However, before you give it a try, make sure you read up on your messaging etiquette:
1. Set a Welcome Message
While you may not be able to answer every message immediately, you should create a welcome message to automatically respond to customer inquiries. This response will let customers know that you’ve received their message and that you will reply shortly. You can set your welcome message from the same menu where you enabled your messages.
2. Disable Messaging if Unavailable
If you will be unavailable for an extended period of time, make sure to disable messaging to ensure that customers will not be left waiting for a response. You can disable messaging from the Settings menu then simply enable it again when you’re ready.
3. Never Request Sensitive Information Over Messaging
Never ever ask for payment information, login credentials, or government identification information over chat. Any sensitive information should always be handled through secured channels.
4. Be Courteous, and Avoid Text Lingo (brb, lol, g2g)
While instant messaging may not be as formal as an email or phone call, that doesn’t mean that standard business communication etiquette goes out the window. Remember you’re talking with a potential customer, not texting your buddy to grab drinks after work.
5. Do Not Send Unsolicited Information Over Text
Unless specifically requested by the customer, you should never send offers, advertising, or any other unsolicited information via GMB messaging. This is considered a violation of Google’s guidelines and could result in disciplinary action.
Do it right, or don’t do it at all—that should be your motto for GMB messaging. If you want to enable GMB messaging—even if just for a test run—you need to commit to it, and if you can’t do that, then it’s better to just leave it disabled.