How does a small business break the awkward silence of not acting? The bad reviews of unhappy customers show up on the internet constantly. Instantly, other unhappy customers add to the conversation and it snowballs into a bad reputation. But where is the balancing response? Most times, there’s nothing but silence.
The silence comes from a lack of action because a strategy is missing. The strategy of response. You need to know ahead of time HOW you are going to respond to negative comments and complaints. Draw up a flowchart, outline some steps, make up a formal procedure if needed. Just have a plan in place. Put some tracking in there and planned decision making. Add some empowerment. Give your customer service reps the ability to offer the disgruntled customer a freebie, a discount or better yet, a refund.
Customers are no longer passive eyeballs viewing your television commercials or reading yellow pages ads. Your customers are having conversations about your business whether you are there to hear it or not.
They are recommending you or blasting you. If your business isn’t present in the space of these conversations, you have no way to respond. Largely, this is the space of social media. Having a strategy in place to monitor and respond can help head off problems with customer service, but more importantly the online reputation of your business.
Yes, your business has an online reputation and maybe even a Facebook community page which your company did not even create. There are Google Places pages, Yelp pages and Twitter accounts which are similar sounding to your company name with the word “sucks” after it.
If your company is already present and listening to online conversations, you can be agile and responsive. You can come back with a solution and at least acknowledge the problem for the customer. Sometimes the surprise of a quick response will have a calming effect to the whole situation. The person complaining might think, “I’m mad, but at least they’re working on it.” Much better than the awkward silence after a cry for help: “Is anyone listening to me? I’m mad and no one cares!” By responding you’re showing the customer that you value the relationship and want to make things right again. Customers can be more understanding about a mistake if you work hard to correct it. Silence doesn’t change anything and definitely hurts your reputation. Something that should be cherished above all.
Break the awkward silence and let your customers know that you are listening and working hard to earn the trust they’ve put into you.