Online Complaints? Great!


posted by on marketing, Online Reputation Management, Service Philosophies

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Business owners tell me daily that one of their biggest objections to having a social presence is that it gives unhappy customers a place to complain online for all to see. Do you worry about this as well?

It’s a valid concern – you are indeed giving customers a way to do that when you “go social.” The important point to remember, however, is they can do it already. Google Reviews, Yelp and CitySearch are but three places that customers can go to either praise or condemn you. There are many more that cater to certain industries, such as Urban Spoon for restaurants and Dealer Rater for car dealerships. Chances are, your customers are already talking about you online. The real question is: Do you know what they’re saying?

It’s beneficial to listen to customers online so that you can both protect and enhance your reputation there. One easy way to do this is with Google Alerts. Once it’s activated, you’ll be notified by email any time your brand is mentioned. A second way is to determine which review sites are widely used, and which are most often used for your industry. Check them regularly in the event that something falls below Google’s radar. Respond to every comment, good and bad. You can also encourage customers to go to these sites and give good reviews, building a bank of positive online press for all to see.

While a negative comment out in cyberspace may not be as daunting as one on your own branded Facebook Page or Blog, you should consider complaints on any of your sites a gift, as they provide an opportunity to address whatever problem has arisen. Just as people will see the negative, your rapid, thoughtful response also shows them you’re willing to address it. The important thing is to leave such comments intact so people don’t feel censored, while at the same time employing a strategy to get any issues off the page to avoid a lengthy back and forth. Offer to contact them personally or give your contact information for them to contact you. I suggest a phone call or in person visit to personalize the exchange even more.

Remember, your social presences are a resource for your customers. In part this means allowing them to voice both the positive and the negative, and handling each in a manner that strengthens your relationship with them.

Have you gotten complaints online? How do you handle them?


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