I was reading a blog post today on Search Engine Land dealing with negative reviews. With all that is offered on the web today, you have to be able to take the good with the bad.
In a lot of ways the internet has opened doors and windows of opportunity to businesses all over the world. Today, businesses have a much greater ability to share what they have to offer to a wider audience then ever before. But with that opportunity comes the option for people to exercise their freedoms and speak openly about your products and services.
I have been finding that businesses that have an online presence have not fully embraced the idea of implementing certain forms of user generated content on their site, such as a forum or a blog. Many use the excuse that they don’t want to give consumers the opportunity to leave negative feed back about their products or services. But, I have to ask why?
Whether you like it or not, your buying audience is talking online every day and they hold all the power. The online shoppers of today are sharing what they like and what they don’t like on message boards, blogs, forums and more. At no other time in history has the consumer had as much power as they do now. Today’s consumer does all the work. They are in control from their first preliminary search query to the blurb they left on their blog about how they felt about their experience shopping with you. And, all this can be completed in one sitting. WOW! Think of the implications of that!
If you didn’t already know, a person is more likely to go out of their way to let others know about a bad experience they had then they are a good one. If a customer has a bad experience with a company, either online or in a physical store, they are going to talk about it.
Before the internet, word of mouth was the only way individuals could make their displeasure known. Now, with the proliferation of the internet word of mouth magnified by millions. Hundreds of thousands of people now have the opportunity to read a negative comment about your services. And from that, they may make a decision on whether or not to purchase your products or the next guy’s.
With that in mind, we have to think carefully about how we are going to react to negative comments that will certainly be left by un-happy customers.
Now, you could:
Ignore the Problem: You could simply not respond at all. However, that’s like taking the ostrich approach and sticking your head in the sand, missing the world because you are too scared to surface and handle confrontation. Not only can this lead to a large loss in business and a damaged reputation but it’s a weak business practice that will most certainly never result in happy repeat customers. And isn’t that what we all want?
The Defense Rests: Defending your company’s bad business habits or mistakes, whether major or minor, can prove to be a costly mistake too. Tone is often hard to judge when written and can be taken defensively by the already annoyed customer. The only response you are likely to get is an angry one. Again, this will result in loss of repeat business and a possible bad rep.
The customer is ALWAYS right! We have all heard that before, right. The thing about though is it’s true. The customer is always right and nobody is perfect. So own up to your mistakes and do your best to rectify the situation so you keep them coming back.
Businesses make mistakes all the time and a good shopper knows this. The problem comes when the mistake is handled poorly. If you ignore the issue or become defensive you have lost the sale and probably any repeat business from that customer. You also take a chance on this disgruntled customer sharing their experience with others, and they will. So, why take a chance in today’s connected world?
So, what should you do when faced with negative comments or complaints?
The first thing you should do is apologize or recognize the error! There is nothing wrong with recognizing the mistake and acknowledging it took place.
Next, you should see how you can quickly rectify the situation. Yes, that bad comment is out there for everyone to see but so is your response.
If you handle your response well it can show other potential customers that you care and you have the customer’s best interest at heart. They like it when you care.
It also shows you’re involved with your customer base. Just because you’re doing business online doesn’t mean you can’t see eye to eye. If you make yourself available to your buying public you can’t go wrong. You can achieve this by utilizing some of the social media sites such as MySpace, Facebook, a blog and forums.
If you ask me. the web is just another way to provide great customer service and support for your products. Remember, good customer service keeps people coming back. Just because they are shopping online doesn’t mean you can’t treat them like they were standing right in front of you.
Steve Scott is the CEO & Director of Training at the Tampa SEO Training Academy. He has taught SEO skills to people from around the world and currently offers his hands-on search engine optimization training workshops in Tampa to individuals and businesses of all sizes. Corporate SEO training classes and consulting are also available.