With 84% of people trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, your reputation affects your ability to attract customers, make conversions, and ultimately grow your business. In a previous post, we explored three sources of customer feedback that will not only help you understand what customers expect from your business but will also help you identify ways you can provide a more satisfying customer experience. If you’ve already undertaken the important task of researching what customers are saying about your business, you may have already encountered some degree of negative feedback about your product whether. While a passing, unsubstantiated comment may not be a reason for concern on its own, it’s critical that your business has a plan for reputation management in place if – or, unfortunately, when – a truly negative situation arises.
Not sure if it’s worth the effort? A study of customers who left negative feedback during the 2011 holiday shopping season found that 18% of those who negatively reviewed a business became loyal customers following a response from the company and even made additional purchases. It gets better, though. 33% of customers who received a response turned around and posted a positive review and 34% deleted their original negative review. Without a doubt, responding to customer feedback is vital for recovery following a negative review.
Whether you have a situation that requires your attention now, or if you want to protect the reputation of your business moving forward, here are some questions to guide you in developing a plan for online reputation management.
Preliminary Considerations for a Reputation Management Plan
What types of situations will your business respond to?
Will your business respond to every comment it receives or will it offer bulk responses?
Who is responsible for writing the response?
Who is responsible for posting the response?
These answers, of course, depend on your type of business, its size, and the capacity of your staff. For example, if the main focus of your business is focused on providing pizza-by-the-slice, it may not raise any flags when a customer expresses their disappointment in a lack of ice cream options. Is it worth engaging with the customer and thanking them for their suggestion? Certainly. Does it require a crisis response? Probably not.
On the other hand, if a customer posts that your pizzeria’s negligence sent their child to the emergency room with a severe allergic reaction, you need to know how to respond and you need to respond quickly.
Your business will also want to consider when to respond to customers on an individual basis and when a bulk response is appropriate. For example, if your business provides its customers with a program or an app, you may become inundated with comments on social media when the product is experiencing problems. Likewise, you’re likely to receive several reviews following an in-person event such as an open house. Knowing what can be addressed collectively and what needs to be handled on an individualized basis will help you save time and effort while also making sure your customers feel heard.
Finally, it really goes without saying but every business should have a dedicated social media manager. Likewise, someone on staff should also be responsible for monitoring mentions of your business on review sites and public forums. This eliminates the diffusion of responsibility that often cripples businesses from responding quickly and appropriately in the first place.
Developing a Response to Negative Customer Feedback
What is the customer really saying?
If you were the customer, how would you like the company to respond?
What will your business do differently right now to resolve this problem?
What can your business do differently in the future to prevent this problem from reoccurring?
Receiving negative feedback isn’t easy but, as we discussed in our previous post, it’s necessary for identifying ways your business can improve in order to attract and retain customers. And, let’s be honest, we’ve all been an unsatisfied customer at some point or another and so we can all understand the difference it makes when a business goes out of its way to value our feedback.
The first step in responding is listening. What did they like? What did they dislike? What would they have preferred happen? When listening, it’s critical that we separate our perception of the situation from the perception of the customer. If you find it to be difficult to articulate a polite response, then it’s best to step away and consult a trusted colleague before responding. That’s easier said than done, of course, but it’s another reason why it’s important to designate the right person to manage your reputation. In the end, though, an appropriate and timely response communicates a lot about your values not only to the customer who left the feedback but also to other potential customers who may view it.
Preventing a Negative Reputation Online
How often are monitoring our reviews? Social media? Discussion boards?
What content do you want to track?
How will be notified when customers discuss our business?
Who will receive the notifications?
There are a number of tools available that will help you manage your presence. Google Alerts, SocialMention, Trackur and Rankur are just a few of the tools available to allow users to receive instant notifications whenever your brand is mentioned on the platforms you designate.
For some businesses, the challenge in preventing a negative reputation isn’t necessarily a lack of tools but the lack of organizational capacity and expertise to use the tools effectively. Still, despite the investment of time and effort that prevention requires, properly monitoring your brand can make all the difference when it comes to stopping a bad review from landing on the first page of Google’s results.
It’s Time to Start Engaging with your Customers
With all of this said, keep in mind that people have a right to voice their complaints – and that’s a good thing. Feedback from your customers will help you identify ways your business needs to change, grow, and improve for the better. Of course, you should be taking every opportunity to turn your customer’s negative experience into a positive one but it doesn’t have to be the intimidating and overwhelming process that some businesses fear it to be. In the end, you’ll be glad that you did.
What does your plan for reputation management look like?
Whether you need assistance in developing your plan or if you need day-to-day help in managing your reputation, webFEAT Complete is happy to provide social media management and reputation management services to your business. Let us give you peace of mind knowing your reputation is in good hands.