How often do you get honest feedback about how you’re doing? I mean, honest….it doesn’t NEED to be brutal, just a truthful, balanced opinion from someone, based on their experience. A large number of businesses are scared of feedback and reviews on their various social media pages. This is despite the fact that this is an important form of social transmission and enhances the word of mouth referrals they value so much in the off-line world. These can make or break a business.
- Make sure someone owns this process. If you designate Joan in Sales as the owner of Reviews, make sure she has a clear view of the process, the metrics, the monitoring, etc. She’s now in charge of this part of your online reputation and getting customers involved. Make sure she also gets the recognition for the great job she does.
- Reach out to your raving fans. You have them….especially those who have been with you for a long time. Ask them to share an honest review…..don’t push for positive reviews, per se. Highlight the individuals and their businesses, and they are likely to become even stronger evangelists for you.
- Acknowledge their right to complain. It’s OK to be unhappy and a good thing when they tell you about it.
- Apologize for their situation or your mistake, if warranted. “I’m sorry” can diffuse many tense situations. You don’t have to claim responsibility by doing this, especially when you don’t have all the information. Still, you can be sorry that they had a negative experience and ask for more information on how you can help.
- Assert clarity in your policy or reasons. Sometimes there is nothing you can do, like if they’re unhappy about a return policy or some legal issue. It is OK to assert your reply about this, but be polite and have some compassion, supplying the reasons the policy exists. Don’t make the reason for the policy about the person complaining, make it about the betterment of the customer’s experience.
- Assess what will help them feel better. Ask “How can I help?” This turns the power of the conversation over to the customer (which for many of them will be a bit of a shock…). They can now, if only for a second, state clearly what would make things better for them. This is incredible information, and valuable to the company. When the customer feels empowered, the company’s credibility and authenticity is enhanced.
- Act accordingly. If possible (that is, within reason, company policy and the law…) do what the customer says will make them happy. There will be times when that’s not possible, but discovering the range of what is possible and increasing satisfaction of the customer’s experience with you will land you at a point of agreement most of the time.
- Abdicate. You’ve exhausted all reasonable discussion of addressing the customer’s problem and they’re still claiming an “all-or-nothing” response from you. Time to step away. Politely offer the solution once more, kindly stating that it really is all you can do and that you are happy to do so. Further resistance on their part places you in the position of needing to move on.