Managing Your Online Reputation

Posted by: Alexandria Allsop

No one enjoys getting a negative review, and the effect of one appearing on one of your digital channels can travel further and faster than word of mouth.

The good news is that 75% of online reviews are positive (TrustPilot), but when negative comments arise, it’s vital that they are dealt with promptly and in the right way.

That’s the key here. Customer reviews are highly influential, and dealing with a complaint well can not only prevent potential customers being put off trying your product or working with your business again, but can actually improve the customer relationship and result in repeat business.

Reacting in the right way can boost your reputation by showing that you are part of a team that works hard to listen to feedback, respects and helps their customers, and remains true to brand values.

Ecommerce will account for 23.4% of all sales this Christmas (forecasted by The Centre of Retail Research), and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday set to put added pressure on resources and customer service, it’s vital to make sure you and your team are equipped to tackle any negative feedback.

Be prepared with these seven steps:

1. Acknowledge the problem

Though it can be tough at times, try to view complaints in a positive way. Avoid placing blame on the customer – this will only aggravate the situation. Be grateful that a customer has taken the time to let you know they aren’t happy, rather than just avoiding your business from now on, and recognise that their thoughts are valid.

2. Be timely

This goes for all channels, on and offline, but when dealing with complaints on Twitter especially, it pays to respond quickly. Users will expect you to be reachable, so try to reply within a few hours. Twitter doesn’t allow many characters for discussion, so to avoid an unintentionally clipped tone, ask the customer to send you their email address or phone number by direct message (you’ll need to follow them first), so that you can effectively deal with the complaint free of character restrictions.

3. If possible, address the complaint visibly

Most review and social media sites allow you to reply to comments, presenting you with the opportunity to proactively address the problem in full-view of current and potential customers. Deleting negative comments can be very damaging, and by reaching out where others can see, you get the opportunity to demonstrate your appreciation for the customer with an earnest approach. Trust us, genuine care for the customer will not go unnoticed.

4. Come to an agreed solution

Once you’ve talked through the details and fully understand the problem, take steps to solve it. Offer next steps and check that the customer is happy with what you’re offering. It can often be effective to ask the customer what they would like to see happen to rectify the issue.

5. Prepare your team

If you are senior, empowering your team with a clear policy and process for dealing with complaints means that they can do so confidently and with minimal stress. Listen to your team when they share their views and provide them with the proper training to effectively handle difficult customers. After all, they’re often closer to the customer than you are.

6. Keep a record

By keeping track of complaints in one place, you’ll be able to look for any patterns that may emerge. If there are persistent causes, looking back on previous activity will help you decide how best to deal with the problem.

7. Don’t take it personally

Though most complaints will be genuine, be aware that you won’t be able to resolve every issue. Learn from each one and keep in mind that, with each of these steps in place, you’re working to give your customers the best experience.

Being open, transparent and honest are the cornerstones of giving exceptional customer service experiences that people will want to share. If you turn potential negatives into definite positives you’ll maintain your brand integrity and reputation – vital components for delivering great results.

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