Managing Online Customer Feedback:Here are five things you need to know.
Even negative reviews can help build customer loyalty.
Samara Hart of PIXSYM, a Tehachapi, Calif.-based marketing, brand and design firm, encourages small-business owners not to overreact when negative reviews rear their ugly heads and to actually embrace them as a natural part of doing business. Your customers need to feel encouraged to say what they're thinking, even when that thought is less than favorable toward your company's products or services. Business owners very often make the mistake of posting only positive reviews. Having all glowing reviews will typically make prospective customers suspicious of a business. Negative reviews can actually help build a loyal base of fans in the long run, because they provide businesses with the opportunity to do something special for disgruntled customers -- like offering a refund or another shipment of the same product at no cost.
Identify the root problem.
Sure, nobody welcomes negative comments, but no business is perfect -- and customer complaints can help you identify weaknesses in your business. When sorting through them, you need to identify what type of feedback you have actually received, because each type requires a very different response. Customer reviews will typically fall into the following categories:
Know when to respond.
"Not all bad reviews are created equal," notes Lisa Baron, chief branding officer for Outspoken Media, a Troy, N.Y.-based Internet-marketing firm. Sometimes communicating with an angry customer can help make your business better -- and sometimes it can just give attention to someone who doesn't deserve it. She lists five instances in which comments deserve a response from you directly as a business owner:
Know how to respond.
Once you determine which feedback you must respond to, you have to do it professionally. Baron suggests you read through and understand user attitudes about your company, calm down, then consider the following tactics for response:
Encourage your good customers.
Susan Emerson of Eying Marketing, a marketing strategy site, ascribes to the philosophy that any good defense starts with a good offense. Negative reviews will have less impact on your business if you have many positive reviews. You should encourage your satisfied customers to post reviews of positive experiences. This will help create very qualified testimonials for your business that will go a long way in helping bring more great customers in the door.