How to deal with online comments
Almost every organization has received a critical online comment at some point. Complaints show up everyday on the Internet and businesses of all sizes can no longer avoid it. Even powerhouses such as Google, Apple and Sony receive negative feedback. While organizations can't control these online black eyes, acting quickly to alleviate the problem is the best solution. The amount of time it takes a company to respond to customer reviews speaks volumes about how the organization operates and the importance of its patrons.
Surely companies can't make everyone happy, but there's something to be said for those that try. At Red Door Interactive, we strive to improve the Internet Presence of our clients and help them build effective response plans and empower their managers with the resources and authority to respond immediately to any online and offline unsatisfied customer comments. Once a negative post makes it on the Internet, it has the potential to spread like wildfire. The number one priority for such instances must be to repair the relationship and keep one's online reputation in the best light possible. Here are four areas to focus on that will help to stay on top of any negative online chirping, remedy the issue ASAP and come out on top.
1) Monitor social media and online review sites
In March 2010, a Nielsen survey polled more than 27,000 Internet users revealing that 41 percent of online consumers would share a negative product experience on Twitter or write a review. Folks everywhere use social media sites to speak their mind. If a customer purchases a new product and is unhappy, they'll use these platforms to voice or vent their dissatisfaction for everyone to read and form an opinion. It's in the company's best interest to respond immediately and work to resolve the issue so they can show others the importance that they place on customer service and satisfaction. If an organization doesn't take immediate action, it only fuels equal suspicion by other users.
2) Set up "Google Alerts"
If companies aren't on social media sites and monitoring what others are saying, they should at the very least stay on top of your online reputation by signing up for Google Alerts. This free service screens content on the Internet and allows individuals to receive email notifications when Google finds new content related to their organization.. If Google sees it, you see it. Set up alerts related to the company, products the executive team and competitors. This allows companies to stay in the know regarding comments pertaining to their brand that surface on the Internet, and in turn, follow up instantly to respond to an issue before it becomes too big to handle.
3) Understand what matters to your customers
Reviews matter most to customers when they are shopping and making purchase decisions. According to the 2010 Social Shopping Study by PowerReviews, 57 percent of shoppers trust customer reviews as a research source. Learning where and when your customers are posting reviews can be as important as what they say. While sites like Google and Yelp may be most popular today, your customers may be on a niche or local review site. Multiple location retailers may see a concentration of review activity for a selected location while another get little activity. Further, the continuing growth of smartphones gives customers the ability to post and read reviews when they're near or just exited your front door. According to TechCrunch, while iPhone visitors made up only 4.4 percent of Yelp's unique visitors in May, they made up 27 percent of all Yelp searches.What is being said is as important as when and where when it comes to establishing a response plan.
4) Plan and Empower
Many companies have learned the hard way how a damning review can impact store traffic. Have a response plan in place and empower your manager(s) to act quickly and with the authority to make amends. While negative reviews can be legitimate or outlandish, it's important to know which to acknowledge and resolve effectively and which to ignore or contest. Always keep your cool. There are numerous stories of negative reviewers posting the angry direct response of a business owner to the review site and creating further damage.
Companies need to place great importance on monitoring their online reputation. With the various outlets for customers to speak their mind and influence others, organizations should react immediately to any negative comments and find ways to alleviate the issue. If you recognize your customers are watching and you're authentic in how you address the issues, you actually find opportunities to show you care and create stronger customer relationships.
About the author: Scott Esmond is the Director of Business Development at Red Door Interactive, an Internet Presence Management firm with offices in San Diego and Denver that helps organizations profit from their web initiatives. Clients include Cricket Communications, Garden Fresh Corp, California Avocado Commission, Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill and PETCO. He can be reached at SEsmond@reddoor.biz.