All it takes is one disgruntled customer and before you know it they’re shouting to the world about how terrible you are! All-of-a-sudden you don’t care about your customers, you do a terrible job, and your main business activity is simply ripping people off. Forget the years of hard work you spent making sure that your customers receive excellent service and value for money – you’re now the worst-of-the-worst!
Maybe it was simply a misunderstanding, or a miscommunication, or a genuine mistake – but the fact is that unless you act quickly, your reputation could be seriously damaged!
Therefore, to help you avoid this happening, here are 5 tips to help you protect your on-line reputation:
1. If you have a business Facebook account, make sure you use it.
For many businesses, this is the route many of their disgruntled customers use to vent their spleen these days. Maybe they didn’t get the result the wanted using the proper complaints procedures or perhaps they just want to teach the company a lesson, the fact is, unless you act quickly, many people will see their side of the disagreement without ever getting yours.
So how do you deal with this potential problem? You need to be there when it happens. If you’ve got a Facebook Page, it’s no good visiting once a month to see what’s going on. You need to be there, replying to comments, deleting anything that isn’t in your interest and blocking potential trouble causers. If someone has a complaint, call them or email them and get it resolved in private.
More importantly than this, one of the best ways as a business to establish credibility and engender trust is to open up clear communication channels – and Facebook provides an excellent way to do this!
If you’re customers are going to say something about you publicly on Facebook, make sure it’s something nice. If they have a complaint, make sure it never reaches Facebook.
2. Monitor review sites
In the old days, you’d lean over the garden fence and ask your neighbour if they know a good plumber. Or you’d ask your friend for the name of that decorator they used last year.
Suddenly, in the internet age, we’re doing it differently. I don’t ask my auntie if that hotel she used in Barcelona was any good, I go to Trip Advisor. I’m looking for a local plumber; I’ll go to My Builder. How about a nice restaurant? I’ll go to Yelp. A holiday cottage? Let me have a quick look on Reevoo.
If you run a business you need to know which sites you’re likely to be reviewed on and monitor them. And, if you find an unfair review, complain and get it removed. It’s also not a daft idea to ask your customers to write a review for you on these sites!
3. Open clear communication channels
One of the biggest issues that can cause a small problem to blow out of all proportion is to do with poor communication. We’ve already spoken about Facebook helping to open up clear communication channels but there are also many other ways to provide a way for your customers to get in touch with you.
Why not send a feedback questionnaire after every job? How about following up each completed job with a phone call a month later? Do you have a clear support channel?
Letting your customers know you’re available and want to hear back from them means that they’re more likely to talk to you directly if they have a problem. Making it difficult for them to get in touch means you might not get the opportunity to discuss the problem if something is perceived to have gone wrong.
4. Keep your business persona and your private life separate
Brilliant solicitor by day, ‘techno-freak’ by night. The two don’t really tally too well, do they? …I think I’ll have a look for a different solicitor. There is nothing wrong with ‘techno’ music (whatever that is) but it might not fit too well with the day job.
If your hobby, or your friends, or your political opinions, or your religion, or whatever it might be is could be controversial or contradictory or not ‘fit’ with your day job, keep it separate and private. This isn’t to say that there is anything wrong with any of these things or you have anything to be ashamed about, it’s more the point that you need to keep the focus on what you do.
Of course, there’s no reason for customers not to become friends – and friendship is all about shared interests – but you need to make sure that someone picks you or your company based on your merit, good work and excellent reputation and doesn’t make their decision not to work with you because you have, for example, different political opinions.
If you have a personal Facebook account (or other personal social media account for that matter), you should consider keeping it private. This way you’ll help make sure you’re only be associated with your professional services.
5. Expect the worst
We’re all busy. We all have a ‘to do’ list as long as our arm. We all have to prioritise sometimes at the expense of the softer side of customer service. But, just because you don’t hear from someone, doesn’t mean that everything is fine and they’re happy.
Good restaurants have learnt this lesson well – the waiter will ask you if everything is OK with your meal shortly after you’ve started eating. And you also need to assume that your customers will not pro-actively mention anything to you if there is a problem. It’s probably a cultural thing in this country – people often won’t complain; they don’t like to be seen to be causing a fuss. It is, however, much easier to fix a problem as it appears than to deal with the aftermath when it grows out of all proportion – and the way to do this is to ask the question… at the right time!
If you would like to discuss Seven Creative’s Social Media Management packages including online reputation management, call us today on 0114 383 0711 or get in touch through our contact page