If there is one remarkable consumer movement that has occurred on the Internet in the past decade or so, it is the review culture that Yelpers and others of their ilk have spawned. Although most of us don’t really think about it, when you were out to buy a product or service twenty or thirty years ago, there was very little you really knew about what you were purchasing. All you had to go on was what friends and family told you; otherwise, you were sucked in by advertisements and sales pitches.
Now, the Internet has offered consumers the opportunity to reach out to millions of people and share and compare experiences about their purchases. That’s great for consumers, but it can overwhelming for businesses, especially small businesses, who must rely on a good reputation to continue growing. Here are a few tips for maintaining your reputation on online review sites.
1. Monitor all of the major as well as the niche review sites.
Even if you have to hire one person to do this full- or part-time, knowing what your customers are saying about your business is absolutely essential. Establish a presence on all the major review sites like Yelp, YellowPages, City Search, and also find out other places on the web where your customers may congregate that are more specific to your product or service. For example, if your company sells technology products, take a look on tech review sites and run a search on your business to see what comes up.
2. When someone complains about something, address the problem immediately.
Even though business as usual is experiencing many changes as a result of rapidly expanding technology, there are some things that just don’t change. And one is the saying, “The customer is always right.” If a customer submits a complaint on Twitter, make sure to respond quickly. If the complaint is legitimate, find out how to fix the problem. If a customer is simply being crabby, apologize for the incident, correct the customer with objective information clearing up the confusion, and kindly ask if they will give you another chance. Most importantly, do so in a public manner so that other customers or potential customers know that you care.
3. Don’t overreact.
There are instances in which you will feel unfairly maligned by an irate customer. Of course, for some of us, our first reaction is to respond in a likewise rude or angry manner. Take for instance, this recent story in which a patron of a Houston bar and restaurant posted a tweet calling a bartender a “twerp.” The general manager of the establishment, who was not at the restaurant when the customer tweeted, saw the tweet, called the bartender and asked to speak to the customer. The general manager told the patron to leave, after which the customer left in tears. This is a clear case of overacting to complaints (even illegitimate, rude complaints) on the web.
4. Collect all reviews, read them carefully, and make appropriate changes.
Although not all your reviews will make sense to you, it is important to read each and every complaint carefully. If you notice a pattern in any area of your business that receives many complaints, then make sure to make a long and short term plan for changing things. In the same vein, if you receive many positive reviews, find out how you can amplify your strengths.
The most important thing to remember when reading reviews on the web is that you have been given a remarkable opportunity to connect directly with your customers and make your business the best that it possibly can be. If you approach reviews and complaints in this manner, you’ll learn more about improving your business than you ever imagined.
This is a guest post from Carol Wilson who writes for business insurance quotes. She contributes articles about a variety of marketing, business, stock market, small business topics. She can be contacted at: wilson.carol24 @ gmail.com.