Many don’t realise that opening yourself up to Social Media means opening yourself and your business up for criticism. Others are deterred for exactly that reason! Either way, its a reality that people are going to be critical and social media is looked upon as an almost anonymous channel to, in many cases, vent or express concern.
Within the buyer’s process, social media supports the search for information and evaluation of alternatives, particularly through other people’s experience with a business at any time. I myself have often been seen to turn to Tripadvisor to help me decide where to make a dinner reservation or have checked the Facebook reviews because making an appointment at a day spa. These experiences influence my behaviour as a buyer. If I come across a business with a lot of low ratings, I would not feel comfortable seeking out the products with confidence that they will fulfil the purpose in which I have acquired them. Constant bad reviews are a problem for businesses and with customer expectations rising; the need for quality service is imperative to being competitive.
The intent to write a bad review varies for each customer. Studies show that while people who have had a great service experience would be happy to share that with 5 other people however people who’ve had a bad experienced are more inclined to share – the study shows on average 18.5 people were told about a bad experience.
Reviews should be encouraged but they need to be managed. We know how important they are, we know bad reviews are inevitable, so here are 5 ways in which you can help managed these comments to provide the customer with a positive outcome.
Make sure the review is true
All too often, competitors will take a cheap shot and deter your customers and try to damage your brand instead of focusing on their own. Customers will take advantage if they know you are offering something of value or for free which is often the case. Make sure the claim is accurate before apologising or becoming defensive with the reviewer. If you are second guessing the integrity of the comment, ask them to provide you with specific details so that you can provide an outcome accordingly.
If someone has gone out of there way to provide you with valuable feedback (good or bad), its good practice to respond swiftly. Problems or concerns raised by the reviewer can take time to resolve. The quicker your response, the quicker a resolution can be achieved. Not responding to a post from a reviewer is a mistake! Letting them firstly have a bad experience but secondly, know about it and not to attempt to resolve it just proves to the world wide web your lack of care for your customers and their concerns.
Let them know the action you have taken
Responding is one thing but saying ‘thank you for your response’ is not meaningful to the customer. The customer took the time to make you aware of how they felt so that you could do something about it. The action taken here is crucial and if you would like to discuss specifics further, don’t be afraid to pass on details privately. Social media is about two-way communication and that’s what customers have come to find acceptable.
Check your tone
A lot is lost in translation, especially with all of the noise associated with Social Media. Make sure your response is relevant, meaningful and of a sincere nature. Come across as concerned and professional, even if the reviewer is not as forgiving. Treat the conversation as customer service and no different to a direct face-to-face interaction.
Learn from the Take Aways
Real complaints are giving you first hand information about how your company is perceived by the customer and this should be encouraged. Product and service developments have been known to come from such feedback and rather than having a negative approach, turn it into a learning exercise.
Alec Gardner wrote in an article in a Marketing Mag article today that Gartner predicts that by next year, nine out of 10 companies hope to compete primarily on the quality of their customer experience.
Customer insights and feedback can be used for constant review of operations and need to be taken on as a valuable information source and a way to remain competitive in the dynamic business environment.