Referrals. Feedback. Testimonials. The backbone of all business whether you are a single operator or a multinational is the propensity of your customer base to sing your praises. The old adage still rings true today, but the forum is different. Think of word of mouth as ‘word of mouse’. Tacky, but true.
Social Media has become the new soapbox. If you had a poor experience at dinner, or dealt with a below average Uber driver or even had a painful time at the dentist, chances are you will air your disappointment to the world wide web. And if that’s done via a social or professional network or feedback platform, chances are the audience is vital to that particular business as it’s close to their ‘catchment’. How do you improve your social standing?
1. Ask, don’t shoutIt is a simple oversight but makes the biggest difference. If a customer tells you they are happy, ask them to repeat that praise online. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, even an email which you can replicate on your own site. No one wants to hear how good YOU think you are. People want to hear what their trusted peers think. Then the audience will take note. For example, if your restaurant has a chuffed diner, hand them a Tripadvisor card with a note saying ‘Enjoy your experience? We’d love you to help build our business and share the love. ‘ Perhaps offer them a slight discount off their bill if they do this prior to leaving.
2. The last word More and more people take to the web to give positive (and more often negative) feedback. Sites such as ratemyagent.com.au (real estate), productreviews.com.au (any consumer product) and social media sites allow patrons to provide feedback. Never. Ever. Have the last word. And NEVER dispute the complaint. There are only 3 ways to handle an online complaint.
A. Ignore. The assumption is that the complainant is correct and that’s a bad outcome.
B. Dispute / Defend – lowering yourself to their level makes the audience also believe the complainant is truthful.
C. Acknowledge and dissolve. This is the best outcome. Acknowledge the feedback. Confirm the changes made to ensure this doesn’t occur again. And then offer a free ‘x’ (night, meal, training session, tax return) to show them your adjustments. This suggests to the audience that you are reasonable, honest and keen to improve on your offering.
3. Google Alerts It is imperative to know what’s being said about you and your business. The good, bad and indifferent. By setting up a Google account, you can add words and phrases which, when matched anywhere on the internet, will generate an auto link to your email. This way you will always know what’s being said and then be in the best position to respond.
Importantly, also consider your competitors and set up alerts for them. You should want to know what your main opposition is doing well, indifferently and poorly at every turn.