In business, you are what you are perceived to be. Your customers not only have their own opinions of your business, but they can also influence other potential customers. How you actually run your business is certainly important. Just as important, however, is how customers that have never stepped foot in your business perceive you. Before they ever step foot into your business, many consumers will research it online. Every single website that contains feedback from other consumers about your business will help shape their perception. Every review they read; Every comment on your Facebook page; What people are saying about you on Twitter; All of these will contribute to form a business profile for these new customers.
Most businesses nowadays understand the importance of monitoring comments and reviews for problems. Some will outsource this monitoring. Some will do it themselves. Regardless of who does it, if it’s not done properly, you can do more damage than if you had done nothing. As a public relations expert, my job is to gain exposure for companies. I can issue press releases and white papers until I’m blue in the face. However, all of that can be undone by improper communications between the business and its customers.
I don’t believe that any consumer expects a business to be perfect. What they do expect, however, is for someone to care when something goes wrong and to assist them in fixing the problem. Many times, consumers lash out with a negative review, tweet or Facebook comment simply out of frustration. Most of these upset customers can be diffused if the situation is handled properly. And a proper and appropriate handling will also show potential customers that you care and are paying attention.
Here are a few simple guidelines that you should take to effectively communicate with, and diffuse, angry customers online.
By following these 4 basic guidelines, you’ll find that you’ll minimize any damage to your online “personality” that you could create yourself. In addition, you will leave a trail of breadcrumbs throughout the web in which people can see that, while you may not be perfect, you care about your customers and are willing to make an effort to fix any issues that arise.
And that speaks volumes.