This post is sponsored by Visa Business.
As a small business owner, the importance of good customer service and what people are saying about your business is paramount. We all know that.
Good reviews should be shouted off the rooftops. Even negative feedback can be turned into a positive situation when dealt with effectively. It all comes down to delivering killer customer service, even when things aren’t going well.
The real tricky thing is those bad reviews and complaints that just might be sneaking in online without you being aware. Did you know that 74% of customers will change their mind based on a bad review? (source: Harris Interactive). Forego keeping tabs on your online mentions and you put your business’ reputation at stake!
Think that any customer with a complaint or something negative to say will contact you directly each and every time? Think again!
With all the available web and social media channels, unsatisfied customers can (and often do) head wherever they please to spout off their negative feedback… and you’d be none the wiser. This is where the importance of managing your online reputation comes into play. It is vital to good customer service that you monitor mentions of your company so that you can most effectively offer customer support online and deal with negative comments and complaints.
Let’s look at some ways your business can keep tabs of online mentions and where some of them might be trickling through…
The danger of unattended social media profiles
Complaints sitting unattended on social media networks are customer service poison. Clients today are using social media profiles as a way to contact your business as opposed to the (now becoming old-fashioned) complaint letter, phone call, heck even email, to the customer service department. And they are expecting a quick response!
(For more on dealing with complaints on social media, check out this post).
But this presupposes that you are actually there. The thing is, many a small business owner is guilty of setting up a social profile (or several) with all the best intentions of being active. But then other facets of running the business take over. That Facebook Page? Forgotten and way down at the end of that to-do list.
As busy small business owners, we can all sympathize with that. The problem is that the social profile is public, whether you’re there to care for it or not. This is one reason why I never recommend biting off more than you can chew when it comes to online marketing. But nevertheless, if you’ve got the social profiles, you should be prepared to devote some time to, at the very least, checking to make sure that nothing has come through that needs addressing. And we all know that we can’t solely rely on Facebook notifications, right??
Surprise directory listings
While directory listings might not be part of your online marketing strategy, your business might have been added without you knowing!
Google Places and Yelp will create a business profile for your biz without you actually having registered. Users can list a business, or 3rd party data may have alerted them to the existence of your small biz. This leaves an unmonitored source that people may be using to find and perhaps comment about you.
Do a search of your business name and see where you might be listed so that you can take ownership. Then check back regularly so that you can respond if any negative comments come through. (Click here if you’ve been having troubles responding to reviews on your Google Places page).
Social media search
As mentioned above with social media profiles, active engagement is key. Twitter has a handy tool, Twitter search, which allows you to keep track of conversations around your business (even if people haven’t specifically @mentioned you) and address any customer complaints or questions in a hands-on manner. Impress that customer by reaching out to them.
If you are new to Twitter, this might sound confusing. Here are some examples to clarify. If someone specifically mentioned you in tweet, they would write something like: “I’m thinking about hiring @martinairing for some marketing work. Anyone know if she’s good to work with?” You would be notified of this, since they @mentioned your Twitter name. If they didn’t @mention you, they would write something like: “I’m thinking about hiring Martina Iring for some marketing work. Anyone know if she’s good to work with?” You would not be notified of this.
The solution: Twitter search! Be sure to do a general twitter search of your business name (or your name if you’re a solopreneur like me), using the Twitter search bar at the top of the Twitter page, to make sure people aren’t tweeting complaints or talking about you without your knowledge. Save the search for easy access later.
Even better? Use my favourite (free!) social media management tool, Hootsuite. You can save a search for your business name in your dashboard and Hootsuite will search not just Twitter, but Facebook for you as well. Awesome sauce!
Google Alerts is a free tool that can be used to monitor where customers may be complaining without you knowing, such as blogs or forums for example.
Check out my blog for instructions and a how-to video. Unfortunately, due to the incredible vastness of the web, these alerts don’t catch EVERYTHING. But it’s still worth it to set up, especially since it’s free!
Of course, no matter how proactive you are, you most likely won’t be able to catch each and every mention of your business online. But the tips above should really help to at the very least do the best to can to protect your online reputation.
The above also doesn’t just apply to negative feedback. Even when someone is talking positively or generally about your business, it’s important to jump into the conversation and say thank you or acknowledge him or her. Part of good customer service is being all around likeable and responsive, not just when issues arise.
And remember, just because you’re not listening to your customers doesn’t mean they’re not talking!
Need some convincing about the power of customer service? This is a topic we’ve discussed before, including how to deliver good customer service and just generally recognizing that you gotta love your customers.
Now how about some stats? If the infographic below doesn’t convince you, nothing will
On to you. Do you have any other tips for monitoring your online reputation? What are your top tips for delivering awesome customer service? Meet you in the comments.
I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.