Inviting and accepting feedback is an excellent way for business owners to learn how well or how poorly they are serving their clients. Hearing negative feedback may be humbling, and yet, if a customer takes the time to offer feedback to your business that shows he or she cares. If you have a terrible experience at your favorite local store, you might tell all your friends and blast the establishment on social media. However, if you care about the business, you might walk down the street, ask to speak with the owner and tell him or her how they could do a better job next time. An online business has the same opportunity.
Over the past decade in customer and public relations, not responding to reviews has fallen out of favor. When you receive a positive or negative comment from a customer, you have an essential task to complete. Best practices recommend responding to all reviews. Word of mouth still works wonders in the digital age, even if it is by strangers to other strangers sometimes.
Online customers are real customers.
Approximately 70% of all customers prefer shopping online to brick and mortar stores. At the same time, these customers expect the same selection, respectful treatment, and convenience from an online business. In other words, practicing good customer relations for an online business is just as important as if you were interacting with him or her face to face. Think of it like this: if a customer walked into your store and complained, you would meet with him, respond respectfully and rectify the situation as soon as possible. Avoid letting the potential anonymity of an email lull you into thinking you have no responsibility to carefully craft a written response to a customer.
Watch your tone.
Just because you are responding to all reviews in writing over the internet hardly means you can ignore etiquette, grammar and spelling, and tone. If you were to meet a client in person, he or she could gauge and respond appropriately to your body language, facial expressions, and voice. Those nuances translate very poorly over digital communications. What this means is you have to draft, revise and proofread your response. Best practices recommend reading it out loud to yourself, and perhaps, asking a trusted coworker to proofread it as well. This extra step just may prevent an upset client from blasting you on social media or dropping your business altogether. If you have issues with this, you might want to see how review management can help.
Do the Check-in.
People have grown increasingly impatient when it comes to receiving feedback from a business or website. One way to ensure you are responding to all reviews and customers is to set up automated responses from your company. Depending on the size of your online business, a phone call from you or a personalized email may be impossible. However, all your customer wants is to know if his or her order went through, when it is likely to arrive, and whether you appreciate their purchase. So, if you provide an automated response that says, “Thank you for your order. It will arrive on X day. Contact us with questions,” you have just eased their anxiety and earned their loyalty. Good job!
Invite more feedback.
If a client has praised your business for its excellent service and quality, invite him or her to write an official review online, so you have a testimonial, i.e., concrete evidence from a client that demonstrates the top-of-the-line service and high quality your business delivers. If your reviewer can reinforce your brand voice and show authentic appreciation, the review will be more powerful and persuasive than any advertisement or printed collateral you put forth. With a brief explanation that offers a convenient way for other customers to leave a review (a direct link is a good idea), you can dramatically increase your feedback from others.
Practice frequent reciprocal communication.
Responding to all reviews is just as important in the digital age as it’s ever been. Communication is not message sent; it’s message received. So, when you receive a comment, reply swiftly and politely, and invite another response. This will encourage your clients to look for updates and continue a relationship with your business. When your customers receive frequent, positive communications from you, they will feel important and valued. That will keep them coming back. Send your customers an appreciative email, a Thank You note, or follow up with a phone call to build customer relations. These tactics promote the customer’s desire to continue an authentic business relationship with you.
What is your most valuable commodity? Consistency. When your customers patronize your business, they want high quality, respectful treatment, convenience, and relevancy every time. When you deliver those items consistently, they will continue to praise you, recommend you to their friends, and come back, and it’ll impact your brand and company image. If your customer expects excellence from you, that is high praise.