Businesses are in the business of making money. And making money starts with you establishing your brand’s identity as someone of repute.
There is a reason why NPS is such a crucial metric for your business. How your consumers perceive your business is how they will talk about you, if they do that at all. Btw, they may not talk about you if they find you acceptable or even good (unless they find you amazingly exceptional), but if they find you bad, you can bet dollars to donuts that they will do so. Although an average business will not have to deal with a horde of hundreds and thousands of bad reviews that can tank your business, it still can do a lot more damage than you think.
How consumers talk about you matter a lot. More so if they are speaking from a negative experience. Of course what every business aspires for is a scenario where there are no negative reviews at all, but that is almost impossible to achieve. What matters is you being able to recognise the time sensitivity that comes attached with each negative review. Fail to respond to a negative review, or even fail to do so in the right timeframe — and you are contributing to creating a bad impression of your business, creating problems for your future reputation.
#1. HIGHLIGHT YOUR STRENGTHS
The internet is no place to take the moral high ground and skirt away from self-promotion. Go ahead; get on a soap-box and scream how great your business is. Because if you don’t do so, nobody else will, and disgruntled voices would be the only thing anyone would hear.
#2. BE ATTENTIVE TO POSITIVE REVIEWS. BE MORE VIGILANT FOR NEGATIVE ONES
We all love positive reviews. As hard as they may be to come by, every single one of them gives a boost to the morale of the troops. They are a validation of the good work we, as a business, are doing. Go ahead. Promote every single one of these reviews. They are testimonials of the truest form.
But the negative reviews are even more important. With the advent of social media, businesses have gotten more vigilant about what customers are posting on the facebook pages and twitter. First of all, that is just half the work done, but we will get to that in a minute. Even when it comes to managing these reviews and feedback on facebook and twitter, there are few good and bad practices here:
- Be quick in responding to every single review — specially the bad ones.
The longer you take to respond to a bad review, the more impatient the consumer gets. And if you actually ignore them, it presents the image of you being uninterested in feedback or worse — not giving a damn about the bad experience your consumers have had to go through.
- Solve these concerns in full view of the public
I have seen businesses respond to consumers’ complaints and negative feedback with a templated response “Please email us on email@example.com and we will look into it.”
It does look fine on the face of it. After all, it does give the impression of the business being proactive in solving the consumer’s concerns. But what you are missing out on is the fact that while the consumer’s concerns were voiced quite openly, how you handled that remained a mystery to everyone who would get to read it. This was an opportunity for you to present the ‘delighting consumers’ persona of your brand in front of the world. An opportunity you missed out on.
#3. MOVE BEYOND THE USUAL SUSPECTS
Even if you are a business that is always on its toes in responding to consumer feedback, chances are you are only doing so for reviews that come up on your facebook page and the likes of it. While that is largely the right thing to do (since ~85–90% of consumer feedback would originate on these social pages itself), you need to remember that the internet is a large place comprising of many small clusters.
But I can’t possibly look out for feedback everywhere, can I? No business can have that kind of bandwidth!
Sure you can. And you can do so without breaking any sweat. Just be composed about it and have a level head. Here are few things that will help you stay on a look out for any possible mention of your brand/business:
- Set up google alerts for your brand terms.
This will scour the whole of internet and throw back every result at you — both relevant and irrelevant. The downside of setting up a vanilla alert is the fact that this will throw at you all possible matches of your keywords.
Here are some links that can help you harness the power of Google Alerts in the most effective manner possible:
- How to Use Google Alerts to Monitor Your Brand and Track Interests
- Top Tips for Google Alerts
- The Ninja’s Guide to Google Alerts
- Set up customizations to alert you of specific hashtags, mentions etc. on Twitter
Don’t be myopic on what is relevant information for your brand. You shouldn’t just look at the mentions of your twitter account, you should be looking at everything relevant.
One of the most basic things I have seen a couple of businesses do is to have specific hashtags when their consumers need to talk to them. There is a problem with this approach. It can backfire pretty fast, and when it does (not if, but when it does), it would do so in the most spectacular way possible.
So how should you go about it? Set up IFTTT applets. If you don’t know how to do that, or if you don’t know what IFTTT is altogether, boy-o-boy, you are in for a treat. Head over here to read more on this.
- Blogs, Google map results, Classifieds and listings webservices
It is very unlikely that you will get a positive review on any blog — unless you are paying for it, have managed to strike a personal note with the people behind the blog, or have managed to get the blog onboard your influencer outreach program. But when it comes to leaving you a negative review, people are more forthcoming.
Google alerts will keep you abreast of any and all such developments. And these — specially the maps/places review and classifieds — are quite important. Why? Because they rank up high on search results on your brand terms.
What should you do?
- Apologise for the bad experience
- Give a human touch to things. Talk as if it is a conversation between two friends. Thank them for voicing their concern. Explain why this might have happened (e.g. we witnessed an overwhelming number of orders yesterday, which at this early stage of our operations, we weren’t 100% prepared for. While it did give us a lot of joy to see such an enormous level of love and trust from our community, it also showed us where all we need to ramp up our efforts on priority). Inform them that their concerns are being highlighted to the concerned teams, and they would ensure that as soon as possible, there are ZERO occurrences of such nature in the overall scheme of things.
- Request their patience and consideration while you fix things. (e.g. While we’ll try our level best to get this fixed on priority, it would be of great help to us if you could be patient with us.)
- Do make it a point to indicate a clear line of communication (e.g. I’ll keep you updated on the progress of resolving this issue.)
This shows empathy at your end, displays contrition, and presents the image of a reasonable company. Chances are, your customer will simmer down, and be more considerate to you. He/she will also give you the time to make things right; and in the rare event of the consumer being inconsiderate, it would be quite a public display of the rant of an unreasonable consumer vs a brand thats empathetic and human.
#4. ENSURE THE PROCESS OF LEAVING FEEDBACK STAYS SIMPLE AND EASILY ACCESSIBLE
None of us wants to get a negative feedback, but negative feedbacks do exist. And even if we choose to bury our heads in the sand, that isn’t going to make them go away. But we can make them worse though. We can make things worse by making the process to raise a concern extremely complex for our consumers.
Businesses have tried countless different mechanisms to enable consumers to get positive reviews and testimonials — email reminders, links in invoice mails, app exit screens and what not. It is indeed a good practice; you need to sought positive feedback. But you should also make it easy for a consumer to leave criticism as well. Otherwise, the frustration keeps on getting built up, and the customer will eventually lash out.
#5. SHOW CONSUMERS THAT YOU CAN BE TRUSTED
Give consumers as many reasons as possible to believe in you. This trust factor comes in many shapes and sizes.
- Current/Past clients and why they love you
- Testimonials from current/past employees
- Awards and recognitions
4. Extent of your product and services.
Just look at one segment on Uber’s website.
615 cities overall — now that’s huge.
#6. HELP THEM. DON’T JUST DO BUSINESS, HELP YOUR CONSUMERS
People trust those who come across as authority figures in their respective fields. Nobody is comfortable taking an amateur up on their pieces of wisdom. So which segment does your business fall in? Would it be considered a force to reckon with? Or would it be considered a noob?
People will tell you that it takes a really really long time for an individual, or a brand to establish their presence as an authority figure. That isn’t actually a rule.
There is something I remind myself off of, every single day.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.
You want to be known as somebody? The rules aren’t all that different.
- Work hard
- Have a clear intent
- Ensure taking care of contextual and relevant topics when you talk about anything.
- Focus on adding value to the lives of the community. Not just the one asking the question, but anyone reading it at a later stage as well.
- Be consistent
Before you know it, you’ll establish yourself as somebody who knows his shit on the subject matter. And by association, that will be the image you’ll build for your business.
Pro-tip: Don’t be a know-it-all though. Express opinion, give reasons etc. But don’t project the impression of my way or the highway.
Just an example to support this. I have been writing on medium for 60 days or so, and there are 8 topics where I’m a top writer. Helping others works. Always.
So go ahead and start building up a great reputation for your business. It all starts from zero, and it will involve failures and setbacks. Just be honest with yourself and with your consumers. Everything else is temporary.
That’s it for today. See you tomorrow.
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I am Abhishek. I am here... there.... Everywhere...