With a new location-based app called HotPot, Google has made it easier than ever for  customers to spread the word about their favorite service pros and vendors. Like Yelp, the new app allows users to rate and share information about the companies they use. But Google’s format is simpler and more usable, points out blogger Darion Miller on “The Service Coach.”

Because the app relies on data from Google Places and its cache of 50 million places and businesses, it returns the most relevant businesses on the first search. Searching HotPot is just like running a Google search, except each result comes complete with address and user rating. For example, a search for “plumber” turns up the most highly rated, closest and relevant services in the area.

Miller and others caution that HotPot’s late arrival to the recommendation and review scene puts the service at a disadvantage to existing apps like Yelp. But with easy integration on mobile phones and with Google’s search dominance, the service stands a fair chance of catching on with consumers.

What this means for field service pros is that they now have another free way to create buzz around their business. Because HotPot is available on mobile phones, service techs can even hand over their phone right after a job and ask a satisfied customer to give a review on the spot, Miller writes. The app’s social aspect also allows prospective customers to view their friends’ recommendations.

“This is great for the ‘word of mouth’ business growth that is ever so important to the service industry,” Miller says.

ABOUT Sara Suddes

San Francisco-based contributor Sara Suddes writes frequently about small business, the economy and technology.