Less-than-happy customers are a part of doing business. As much as you try, there is no way to ensure that every transaction will be perfect and everyone will be happy 100% of the time. More often than not, unhappy customers vent frustrations on a public site for the world to see and where a business owner has no control over them. The very best thing a business in today’s social climate can do, is apply some preventative maintenance to their online reputation.
Here are 3 easy things a business can do to avoid negative reviews online:
Be accessible and available – make certain that in every form of contact with your customers there is a very easy way to leave feedback. We often recommend an anonymous feedback form so that a customer has a place to vent that goes straight to the ear of someone in charge. Make sure they know that feedback goes to upper management or the business owner. This alone may be enough to keep people from ranting online – especially if they have a bone to pick with an employee or their general experience. Your business will also gain the opportunity to make this customer’s experience a better one and learn some valuable ways to improve in the process.
Be the first point of contact – Since you’re collecting customer email addresses anyway (you are right?) make the first contact in the form of a survey. Welcome new subscribes to your customer newsletter (those that have done business with you already) with a “How are we doing” type of survey. Most won’t take time to fill it out, but the percentage that do will give you invaluable feedback. Some responders may have something negative to say; use this as your chance to make things right and at a minimum allow them to feel heard. Many times, that’s all customers are looking for when they have something bad to say about a business.
Be great at customer service – Develop a methodology for handling sticky situations. Sometimes this is as simple as reminding yourself that the customer is always right. Teach your employees how to handle an unhappy customer at the point of transaction as well. Make sure that in everything you do, that you listen to your customers and attempt to right the situation at the point of transaction. When handled in this manner, a negative review online becomes deflated when the business responds with some ways of the ways they attempted to right the matter.
Applying a bit of preventative maintenance to your online reputation can go a very long way. It is often surprising to businesses with a negative reputation online, how poorly they are perceived by the public. Don’t wait until you have to find out the hard way that you are missing out on opportunities to make sales. Keeping your online rep on the up and up, will ensure that when potential customers find your business the perception is a positive one.