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Why You Should Be Paying Attention to Customer Feedback Online
  • 05 February 2018
  • Eric Michaels

Why You Should Be Paying Attention to Customer Feedback Online

Whether you ask a first-year marketing student or a seasoned expert, they’ll agree that ignoring customers is a bad idea, regardless of where that conversation is happening. Listening to your customers' feedback, whether it’s a rave review or a concern or complaint, is crucial to achieving success as a small business owner.

There are a number of places online, including social media, that you should make sure are on your radar. First, focus on the big players like Google reviews, Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter. Once you’ve got a grasp of those, you can look to the myriad of other smaller tier directory sites across the web including CitySearch, Foursquare, MerchantCircle and Superpages. You may not be able to respond to reviews across all sites, but you should at least be monitoring what your customers are saying.

When someone takes the time to provide feedback about your company or a product or service that you provide, the best thing you can do is listen. Take a step back, look at the feedback objectively, and listen. If the feedback is negative, take it as an opportunity to evaluate your business, identify any trends and look for things that you might be able to modify or change in order to improve upon a service, product, or process for a better overall experience.

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Be the type of company that actively monitors, manages and engages with customer feedback online. These types of conversations are important and in most cases, merit a personalized response. Not just because each customer is important, but because other customers – and potential customers – are watching. There is no such thing as irrelevant feedback. People will see if and how a business responds and reacts to customer’s feedback.

Managing customer feedback online shows willingness to accept feedback

Social networks operate as community information sharing sites. Sites like Twitter are open for all the world to see, so when a customer shares feedback about a business via a Tweet, the reach could be quite broad depending on how many followers that person has, or how many times that post might get retweeted.

Choosing not to respond to or acknowledge a negative Tweet could escalate into the wrong kind of attention for your business. It’s important to address each scenario, trying to neutralize the situation and showing that the business cares about its customers.

Follow these guidelines when responding to customer feedback online, especially when it’s negative:

  1. Acknowledge the situation. Whether you agree or disagree with the details doesn’t matter. It’s important to acknowledge the customer’s perspective of what happened.
  2. Address the customer by name. When possible, and without divulging every detail that you may know about the customer, address them by first name in your response.
  3. Keep the response simple and succinct. Even though you may know every detail about the situation, your response is not the place to share that information.
  4. Make it relevant. Avoid using the same canned response for every comment that comes through. You want to tailor your response to the feedback provided – again – keeping your response high-level.
  5. Don’t take it personally. This is often the hardest to do. Take a step back, and remove the personal emotion from your response.
  6. Take the conversation offline. The last thing you want is a back and forth dialog online for all of the world to see. Offer the customer the name of someone to contact either a phone number or email address so that you can try to address and resolve their concern.

Engaging with customers online builds customer loyalty

While it can be easy to fire off an email or type out a ranting review, it becomes harder to do so when there’s an actual person at the other end. When businesses actively manage and respond to customer feedback online, customers understand that they’re communicating with a real person, that someone is listening to them, and that someone cares about what they have to say.

If a customer has taken the time to share positive feedback, it makes sense to acknowledge them, and thank them for their business. Let that customer know that you value their business and look forward to serving them again in the future. Create a sense of loyalty so that the next time that customer has a similar need, they don’t need to look for alternatives, they already know you have them covered. This also can work in your favor as the hundreds of potential customers read reviews online before choosing where to spend their money.

Even a negative comment can turn out positive. Remember that your first job is to listen and let the customer be heard. By acknowledging the situation, and personally addressing the customer, you can seek to turn a negative into a positive. Even if that one situation doesn’t flip around, again, the other potential customers that evaluate reviews and feedback online will see that you’re engaged with your business and that you promptly address all customer concerns in a professional manner.

Managing Your Social Media

The land of social media is not a field of dreams. You build it, they come, and then you have to actively maintain it. Two-way dialog is an important component of social media. There is a lot of opportunity behind social media platforms if you know how to use them correctly for business. Be sure that you have a solid social media strategy in place. If you as the business owner don’t have the time to manage your social media, look for tools that can help you streamline, or assign the role to someone within your organization.

Oftentimes, a short Tweet or customer review posted online presents a new opportunity for you as a business owner. Each piece of feedback allows you to connect directly with a customer and work to build a positive association with your brand.

Regardless if your business operates solely online, as a brick and mortar, or a combination of the two, you have to actively monitor and engage with customers wherever they are. Especially when they’re sharing feedback about your business!

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