Marketing has always been the cornerstone of growing a business, second only to the product itself. Word of mouth has always been the most effective method of marketing. Thanks to technology, word of mouth means one person can potentially tell thousands rather than a small group. This is due to online feedback outlets and social media.
Since, according to Spiegel Research Center, 95% of shoppers will read comments first, it is highly important to manage feedback.
Where can people leave feedback?
The answer to this question rests partly on you, the business owner. While platforms like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor provide people a place to leave their feedback, it does not have to be their only outlet.
1. Leave Feedback Directly With Your Business
It is possible for you to give your customers avenues to leave feedback directly with your business, including offline methods. For example, if you own a restaurant it is possible to leave a comment card on the table. Further, your employees can ask directly if they could do anything to improve the experience.
2. Use Customer Feedback Tools
Operating a business that is not brick and mortar does not rob you of the ability to foster direct feedback. Make sure to use such things as email follow-up tools and automated surveys that allow vendors to send automated surveys based on events to customers to inquire about satisfaction and provide information for how to leave feedback. If you do not receive a response make at least one to two more attempts to receive feedback before letting go.
Why is the feedback important?
Treat feedback like a report card. It is the most honest way for you to determine just how well your business is doing. Since you cannot be at the business 24 hours a day and according to Gatherup, 57% of customer complaints are related to employee behavior, you want to know when something is wrong.
This is your chance to engage with your customers as something more than a number. They will provide you with a blueprint of where you are falling short and how you can improve. Think of it as a free focus group on how you can improve your business. All you have to be willing to do is listen when you are receiving valuable information and take action!
If you are like most business owners, you started your business because you
wanted to provide something of value. The people leaving feedback want the same thing. Whether they feel they received something of value will be reflected in the reviews they leave. Treat that nugget of gold responsibly so you can grow your business.
Make sure to manage feedback!
With a clear understanding of the importance of feedback, you need to start
paying better attention to it. If you have been in business a while without paying attention to it, don’t worry! It is not too late. By starting now, you will start to get a grip on what people are saying about your company, so you can make a change.
Since managing feedback can be daunting at times, you will need to have a plan. Most business owners would like to utilize their own voice when it comes to feedback. This is great if you have a small business. If not, it might be time to consider letting someone else handle this important task.
If you are handing off the responsibility of managing feedback to someone else, make sure you have a clear set of guidelines. This should include what they are authorized to offer those who have left negative feedback. You should also lay out clear instructions about timeliness of responses.
Make sure your business is listed online properly with correct information. You should have access to respond to feedback given through the different platforms. By doing this, you are taking the first important step to responding properly to feedback.
Should you even respond to positive feedback?
1. Thank Publicly
Since positive feedback is left less often than negative feedback, you most definitely want to respond to it! Thank the customer for their feedback and acknowledge what it meant to you and what you will be doing with the information. You want to encourage others to leave good feedback, so displaying a willingness to thank people publicly is very important.
2. Encourage the Staff
Go further than just thanking the individual. It was your staff that made that positive review possible. Loop them in on what was said. If a specific member of the staff, or department was mentioned, make sure they receive commandment. Encourage the staff to keep up the good work to bring in more positive reviews.
3. Highlight Good Reviews
Good news should never be kept private. Share it with the world! If you have an email newsletter, add it there! You can also add great reviews to your website for all to see, not just your fans. Social media is another great place to highlight good reviews. Since your website and social media are the two places people visit the most after reading reviews, making sure good reviews are highlighted is important.
How do you even respond to negative reviews? (7 steps)
1. Never take negative reviews personally
While the business itself may be your whole life, the product or service being reviewed is not as important to a customer. Take a breath and remove any anger before taking any steps forward. What you do from here allows you to encourage positive reviews.
Since the majority of people pay attention to only the most recent reviews, making every effort to bury bad reviews with good ones helps your business grow, according to Bright Local.
2. Always take immediate action when it comes to a negative review
The longer a negative review hangs out there without a response the more it appears you have simply accepted the review and do not care. If at all possible, respond to reviews within 24 hours of the time it was left.
3. Respond directly
If you are given the opportunity to do so by the platform the review was left on, respond directly. Gather additional information from the reviewer in the guise of taking action. Make sure they know you take these matters very seriously and intend to follow up with them. Once action is taken, then respond publicly to lay out how the matter was handled. If you do not receive a response, move forward with indicating your attempt to
reach out along with the action taken.
4. Gather all information on your end before making your response
If you encounter anything factually incorrect about the review, make sure to address it in your response. Be kind and matter of fact in your tone. Do not engage in argumentative behavior!
5. Always take responsibility for where your company may have fallen
Address the concern laid out in the review with as much detail as possible. Make sure that the reviewer clearly sees they were heard.
6. Ask for Another Chance
Once you have addressed everything in the review, it is time to start working towards gaining back business. Invite the reviewer to give you another chance. Offer to replace a broken item, fix it, or take some other action to make it right. Avoid simply refunding the money as this ends the transaction. Take every step to further the transaction. Only if nothing else will satisfy the customer should you refund their money.
7. Show You Care
Keep in mind when you are responding to negative feedback, you are responding to more people than just the reviewer. You are responding to the 95% of people who will be reading the comments, and the responses, before making a decision. You want to show you care and are willing to take action.
Growing your business with feedback
It is clear to see that feedback is important to your business, but what will you do with the information? Hopefully, you will take everything to heart and create a concrete plan for how you will manage your feedback and respond to it. This clearly offers you the best path to grow your business by taking into consideration the most important factor:
Michael Habiger is a content marketing specialist with over 6 years of experience, currently head of the marketing department at FollowUpFred. He is a marketing nerd and front-fighter for big data and automation.