Finding “The One” can be difficult. Some people use an app, some wait to run into the right person, and sometimes you can find them on Google. That’s right, we’re not discussing the romantic “One.” Instead, today, we’re exploring the quest for ideal local service providers using data from a recent research survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Birdeye. Check out the full report here.

According to this report, three-quarters of Americans are still looking for “The One” when it comes to, for example, their realtor, hair stylist, or home contractor. 

In this blog, we’ll share some of the key findings from our research and answer some questions about how local businesses can become “The One” for their customers. We’ll also delve into how customers discover and fall in love with “The One” service provider that’s right for them.

Key findings from “The One” report by Birdeye

Consumers are still seeking “The One”: Very few have found their ideal service provider in even one space, and a staggering 29% haven’t seen an ideal provider in any space.

Digital presence is key for brands to earn loyalty: Nearly one in five (17%) consumers won’t even consider a service provider without an online presence. 

Reviews and recommendations drive enormous impact: The average American will read five reviews before selecting a provider and assigns more weight to positive reviews than negative ones (34% vs 15%).

Reviewers are often more willing to be positive than negative: 64% of Americans will leave a positive review after a positive interaction whereas far fewer will leave a negative review on social media (10%) or Google (9%) after a negative experience.

Small businesses get more leeway despite higher expectations: While more consumers are willing to give second chances to small businesses vs national chains (55% vs 20%), 54% of them also have higher expectations for the quality of customer service from small businesses. 

Breaking up is hard: Some consumers find it harder to break up with an ideal service provider than with a romantic partner (13%), while more indicate that it’s just as hard (25%). 

How many consumers have found “The One?”

Graph shows how many individuals have found "the one" across a variety of service providers.

As consumers still seek that “One” ideal provider, small businesses have a unique opportunity to create repeat customers and drive lasting loyalty. Our research has demonstrated that this is the case. Over the last five years, Americans have visited three different personal care providers, three health care providers, and three different home maintenance experts. Yet, 29% still haven’t found their “One” in any category. 

Why are these numbers comparatively low? The short answer is that customers’ ever-increasing demands for a great customer experience are not being met.

The digital factors in becoming “The One”

Details on which factors are critical to becoming "The One", including that 17% of consumers are unwilling to do business with a brand lacking an online presence.

When you maintain a robust digital presence, not only do you give consumers a better chance of finding you, but you can also shortcut some of the uncertainty that naturally comes when searching for a new service provider. A hairstylist who highlights incredible hair transformations on social media or a realtor with hundreds of positive reviews and success stories can more easily become a trusted partner. 

The first step to becoming “The One” is being discovered, and more often than not, this exposure happens through online searches, social media, and reviews. 

Word gets around: word of mouth

While survey respondents differed in who they would ask for advice, “Best Friend” and “Neighbor” topped the list, which is a powerful indication of the value that referral programs can play in becoming “The One’” for a wider audience of consumers. 

The power of positive reviews

Encourage your happy clients to refer their friends, family, and neighbors to get a leg up on growing your business and building lasting loyal relationships with your customers. Build an automated referral program to leverage this at scale. 

There is also a good reason to encourage customers to leave reviews after a service. More than twice as many consumers prioritize positive reviews over negative ones when choosing a service provider.

When things go wrong, customers prefer to contact a business directly. This is why a “direct feedback” option is useful to include within the review process. 

Consumers don’t expect perfection

You might get things wrong, even if you are “The One” for an individual customer. The good news is that one mistake won’t be the end of most customer relationships. Birdeye found that 70% of consumers would give at least a second chance after a bad experience. This provides your business an opportunity to keep lines of communication open and try to make things right. 

The small business expectation gap

When comparing big box stores and national brands with local service providers and small businesses, the difference isn’t only in scale. Consumers in our survey indicated that they felt quite differently about working with local businesses and national brands. 

The fact is, local businesses have a higher expectation of quality when compared to a large chain. This is good news for local providers trying to become “The One” for their customers. They already expect you to have a higher quality. Meet those expectations and deliver a superb experience and you’ll get them back in again and again.

The good news, however, is that even if things do go wrong, only 30% of consumers will defect right away. The rest will give you opportunities to make things right. 

Breaking up is hard to do

A tough breakup can be hard to weather, but some consumers will go the extra mile for a service provider they love (literally). 

Consumers are actually willing to drive an average of up to 28.6 minutes further if their preferred service provider had to change locations. 

Ending a relationship with a service provider can also be an emotional prospect. 

When a regular consumer has to stop working with you, there is a significant chance that one of these negative feelings is associated with the “break up.” 

Why are there such feelings when a relationship with a preferred service provider ends? Maybe because 61% of consumers reported feeling more loyalty to the person providing the service than the brand itself. 

With consumers even reporting that it is harder (13%) or just as hard (25%) to break up with a preferred local service provider than with their own significant other, there is certainly a deep personal and emotional investment in finding “The One.” 

Report methodology

“The One” survey was a random double-opt-in study of 2,000 general population Americans. Commissioned by Birdeye, the survey took place between March 29 and April 4, 2024. Approximately ~60% of respondents identified themselves as female, ~40% as male, and less than 1% as non-binary. The survey collected answers from people belonging to all generations, from Gen Z to the Silent Generation, representing different locations within the United States. 

The survey consisted of 21 questions crafted to reach the heart of what goes into becoming “The One” for local service providers. 

Final thoughts and takeaways

“The One” report isn’t finished providing insights. With more information on the gender, age, and industry breakdown for many of the factors discussed above, Birdeye will release a full report and industry-by-industry analysis of the collected data. 

If there is one key takeaway from this report, it is that consumers are rarely locked into a specific service provider. However, the benefits of becoming “The One” service provider are enormous for all parties involved. 

Watch this space for more information in the near future.

If you’re interested in learning how Birdeye can help you move the mark on your digital customer experience, review management process, social media management, or other business challenges, why not schedule a demo?

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