Many businesses realize the potential of communicating to consumers through the Internet. After all, that’s the point of your Facebook page and email newsletters. But have you considered the value of seeing what people are saying about you online? Do you actively look for reviews and critiques?
Searching for Your Reputation Online
With the popularity of social networking, you can easily search for your company and see what people are saying. In fact, if you use hashtags on Twitter or Facebook, it makes it easy to do so. Foursquare and Facebook both allow people to check in and add a rating to your business if you have a physical location. Online-only businesses have plenty of options when it comes to tracking what people are saying, too. If your products are available on Amazon, check out customer ratings there.
Don’t forget to search outside of Facebook and other social sites to see how your business is doing. A Google search may bring up reviews of your company or services on someone’s personal blog, while consumers can rate your company on Google Places and similar services from Bing and Yahoo. Third-party tools like Reputation.com also provide ways for you to delve into the chatter for free.
Prepare for Criticism
One thing you have to prepare yourself for is negative feedback. Consider when McDonalds started a campaign that encouraged Twitter users to relay their experiences with the company. It was a good idea, but their PR company didn’t count on frustrated customers hijacking the hashtag to tell stories of times that McDonalds’ food made them sick or employees treated them poorly.
Without a doubt, you’ll find negative comments, but it isn’t the end of the world. Consumers are often more likely to post when they’re unhappy than when they’re satisfied, which is something to keep in mind as you start reputation management. However, seeking out these negative experiences and connecting with those customers provides you the opportunity to improve their situation and view of your company. It may even lead to a corrected or appended review; although, you should know that you cannot force someone to change what they post.
Improve Customer Experience
You can, however, offer ways to make up the experience to the customer. If that doesn’t appease them, services like Google Places allow you to comment on customer reviews, so you can explain how you tried to make amends but the buyer still wasn’t pleased.
When your company comes off as one that truly values the feedback of customers, you’ll receive more feedback, both positive and negative. You should honestly take this feedback as an opportunity for your business to grow or to continue serving your customers to the best of your ability. While some criticism will occur when a consumer has a bad day or when factors are outside of your control, you might be surprised at how you can improve customer experiences.
About the Author
Mark Davis works for a social media marketing agency and freelances in his spare time.