We have all heard the age old adage about how many people customers tell about a bad experience vs a good experience. I have heard it called the 8 and 3 rule and countless other stats that outline the fact that people are just much more likely to tell people about a negative experience than a positive one. When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969 business owners could be fairly confident that the bad experience would remain with the person and the 8 or so people they told about it. Now fast forward to the age of Yelp, Google, Facebook, ect. where that one person can literally reach thousands or even millions if they are crafty enough. A motivated person can cause your business much more harm in the age of the internet, which can lead to lost business or even litigation in some circumstances.
So how do you keep in the know about where your customers are talking about your business online? Well the answer isn’t as simple as many business owners would like. The result is a change in the way we do business and requires many SMB’s to either spend time, money, or both in order to be on top of their game. This is a big leap and sometimes the value is not seen until it is too late. Think about driving down the freeway at 80 miles an hour without insurance. Most of the time everything is just fine, until the day that you get into an accident and then you could be in trouble.
As much as we all like to think we are on top of our game, the reality is that you never know when someone may be upset with the service or good you provided them. Additionally, you cannot be sure that the upset patron won’t write a negative review or worse yet start a personal vendetta against your business. So what do you do? Well either hire an expert or get your ducks in a row and set aside the time to manage this important aspect of today’s business world yourself. What types of steps should be taken? Follow these 4 easy steps to start.
- Manage and Monitor ALL Reviews – you do not get to pick where your customers talk about you, especially the upset ones, so make sure you have a system in place to monitor and respond to reviews across many different platforms. Not just Yelp or Google.
- Start “Social Listening” – social media isn’t all about posting your witty content. Customers are going there to talk about experiences they have had with your business and sometimes it’s not good. For example I recently saw pics posted of a restaurants bathroom that certainly was not going to drive business in the door. In this circumstance you could be losing business and not even know why. Respond to customers in a timely manner and tackle problems head on.
- Keep Emotion Out of It – DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT get into the online equivalent of a shouting match. Our businesses are like our babies and we want to defend them, but remember everything you post online can later be used against you or may even cost business. I have heard stories of students loosing scholarships over Facebook posts, the business world is not different.
- Solicit Feedback – although many review sites tell you not to do this, the reality is that solicited feedback is much more likely to be positive. Not saying to make offers for 5 star reviews, because that could land you in trouble, but just telling patrons that you appreciate their feedback in the online realm.
At the end of the day the world of online reviews has been a game changer for SMB’s and a lot of people are not sure exactly what they should be doing to protect their business. It has changed the customer experience and the way that business owners and their patrons communicate. Follow these 4 simple steps to start and you will be sailing in the right direction.