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Learn customer service strategies from other companies

When it comes to your company’s online customer reviews, sometimes you have to sift through several bad ones to get to the good ones. Occasionally, you might come across a truly ugly one that makes your blood boil, but how do you respond? With anger or love?

Companies, whether small or large, need to be at the top of their game when responding to customer feedback. This requires them to be prompt, witty and gracious. The goal is to earn public approval with exemplary customer service. Take a hint from these businesses in learning what to do and what not to do with your customer service strategy.

Here are the good, the bad and the ugly examples that represent some dos and don’ts of customer service.

The good: An example of a company doing it right

JetBlue is scoring points with customers due to its awesome customer service track record. The airline is serious about pleasing its customers and is willing to go the extra mile for a positive review. The company has more than 1.8 million followers on Twitter, more than 1 million likes on Facebook and hundreds of positive reviews on Yelp.

A tactic that JetBlue employs is that it doesn’t leave its customers hanging. The company responds to complaints and feedback quickly – most times within 10 minutes. The airline doesn’t stop there; it works toward surpassing customers’ expectations. For instance, when one customer, Alexa Burrows, was flying home to Boston, she went on Twitter to express her happiness about arriving home and jokingly tweeted for JetBlue to throw her a welcome home parade. JetBlue’s Twitter team sent a message to the Boston airport staff to throw Alexa a welcome home parade when she arrived, which they did. How awesome is that?

One secret to JetBlue’s top-notch customer service is that employees engage with customers cleverly, using their wits and creativity. They can’t make everyone’s wishes come true, but they do selectively respond to the online comments that provide an opportunity to add value to the company.

The bad: An example of a company doing it wrong

American Airlines is doing it wrong and customers are noticing. The airline is known for its over-the-top positivity, even when its optimistic responses don’t make an ounce of sense.

Customers suspected that something was up when American Airlines kept replying to customer complaints on Twitter with repetitive, upbeat responses. No matter what the commenter said, American Airlines replied with something along the lines of “thanks for your support.” Confused customers quickly got on Twitter to tell American Airlines that the jig was up and that robo-tweeting is lame.

Sending automatic responses is tricky. In the case of American Airlines, the automated responses didn’t make sense in the situation. The lesson: Have robotic responses, but also have humans to address the public when the situation turns sour.

The ugly: An example of a company doing it really wrong

If you are running a company, your first priority is to satisfy your customers, especially those who dislike your company. One restaurant’s response to a negative online review provides a perfect example of how not to treat your customers – ever.

The chef at Pigalle in Boston lost his cool when a patron lambasted his cooking skills on Facebook. She wrote that the pumpkin pie tasted like vomit and that it wasn’t worth the price she paid for it: $200. Instead of offering a free meal or refund, the chef responded viciously and rudely – with several expletives. It took some time – and a public and very nasty online exchange – but in the end, the chef realized his mistake and made amends with the miffed customer. Let’s hope he learned his lesson and leaves the “angry chef” gimmick to Gordon Ramsay.

Regardless of what a customer says about your company, you have to handle it with grace. If you do anything else, the entire Internet may turn against you – and ruin your company.

Responding promptly to online reviews and complaints is an important step in providing terrific customer service. It’s also extremely time-consuming. ReviewMaxer is an online review management software application that helps companies manage customer feedback and also improves their online reputation. ReviewMaxer efficiently monitors, collects and promotes your online reviews from one central dashboard. Sign up for a free demo to see how this cloud-based software can save you time and protect your company online. Read the ReviewMaxer blog for more tips on how to handle negative reviews and how to get your company at the top of search listings today.

 

Photo credit: 123RF Stock Photo

Written by: Paul Cook


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5 ways to respond to unhappy customers and improve your company’s reputation

Before the Internet, a customer called or visited a business to complain. The only people to hear the angry customer’s complaints were the customers in the store at that time who may gossip to their neighbor about the incident. As a result, there was little negative effect on the business due to a customer’s frustration.

Now that unhappy consumers can take their complaints online, it’s a different story entirely.

When customers complain, they don’t spread the news by personally telling 10 people. Instead, they post their complaints on sites such as Facebook, Yelp, Google + and even Twitter. One comment attracts several others and has the potential to reach millions of people. As a business owner, what can you do?

The first step is to make unhappy customers your number one priority, doing what you can to make sure they don’t post a negative review about your business. In the event you are dealing with an angry customer, always address the individual with kindness. If a person posts a negative review or complaint about your business online, here are some useful strategies you can use:

  1. Automate the customer review process.
    Invest in an automated system that notifies you when a customer has posted a review about your business. Online review management software allows you to send customers a request for a review. And, it gives your customers options to post their reviews on several different review sites.

If they do post negative feedback, the system provides them with an option to post on review sites that people rarely visit to search for reviews. If customers leave positive reviews, the opposite happens, and they get sites such as Yelp and Facebook, thereby pushing your more positive reviews and comments to the top of the search engine listings.

  1. Be gentle with your responses.
    When you read a negative review about your business, it often leaves you fuming. Your anger is certainly just, but you don’t want to lose a customer or create a bad impression for others. You should pause to regain your composure, and then respond to the customer with kindness and sincerity: “We apologize about your bad experience with us. How may we fix the situation?” or “To make it up to you, we can offer you a discount on your next purchase with us.”

Think with your head and not your heart. Your heart will want to rip the bad reviewer’s comment to shreds, but your head will want you to maintain a good relationship with the customer.

  1. Think human, not robot.
    Put yourself in the shoes of the customer to see how you would like the company to handle the situation. When you draft a reply, make sure you put some human elements in the response. A robotic reply will not appease your customers and may only fuel their anger. Be as humane and sincere as possible with your responses.
  2. Reply to most reviews.
    If you are unable to respond to every review on the site, employ someone to do it. The reviews you shouldn’t reply to are those from people who seem inexplicably prejudice toward your business or those who are making unreasonable requests that you can’t fulfill. Train your employees to identify comments such as these and avoid responding. Also, instruct employees how to handle general complaints, such as accidentally charging someone too much for his or her food – perhaps by apologizing and giving the customer’s money back or offering a free meal.
  3. Make customer satisfaction your mission.
    Make customers your business’s top priority. Tell your employees that even if they have to go the extra mile to make sure a customer leaves satisfied, they should. Adopt customer satisfaction practices such as sending flowers, upgrading shipping or offering refunds. You can also tell your employees to think outside the box when trying to please customers. When your business focuses all their efforts on ensuring the happiness of its customers, reviewers are sure to celebrate the company’s customer-centric approach on review sites.

It’s difficult for businesses to keep track of everything being said about them on the Internet. But it’s critical to manage and control the reviews and complaints in order to protect your brand and reputation. Take control of your online reviews today with ReviewMaxer. This powerful, cloud-based software provides its users with a proactive review strategy to quickly and easily manage reviews and comments from more than 500 sites. Sign up for a free demo to see how the ReviewMaxer software works and read the blog for more tips and resources to protect your company’s reputation and strengthen your business.

 

Photo credit: 123RF Stock Photo

Written by: Paul Cook


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Hint: Don’t do this!

It’s no longer enough for an organization to create a basic website and call it a day. In today’s digital world, if your business isn’t active on social media, you’re missing an essential marketing component.

The same goes for customer reviews. In fact, according to a recent survey, while 35 percent of consumers say that one negative review can convince them not to purchase a product, an overwhelming 92 percent of consumers will hesitate to buy if there are no reviews at all. This means that having zero customer reviews is actually a much bigger problem than having one negative review among the positive ones.

Even the best companies receive negative reviews, and they know there’s a right way to go about addressing customer complaints. Lots of companies struggle with how to deal with negative feedback on Yelp, but that’s just one platform. Many companies now rely on their Facebook pages for business listings, ad promotion and customer reviews. Because it’s a social site that’s fraught with oversharing, you need to be especially attentive when dealing with unfavorable feedback. If you aren’t careful, you could easily be swept up in a commenting storm that has serious consequences for your brand’s reputation.

The most famous example: Amy’s Baking Company

After Scottsdale, Arizona, restaurant Amy’s Baking Company appeared on an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares,” the owners took to the company Facebook page to defend themselves from an onslaught of negative comments. On the show, Ramsay actually gave up on the couple and walked off for the first time in the history of the series, deeming them too difficult to work with. After the episode aired, the owners proved that they were not, in fact, victims of clever reality TV editing. Their social media updates quickly escalated to the point where they verbally attacked commenters, threatened legal action against them, and then – like so many social media cautionary tales before them – claimed their page had been hacked.

Amy’s Baking Company was already in trouble; it had garnered dozens of negative reviews on Yelp and Google and further unsavory details emerged about the couple after their “Kitchen Nightmares” episode aired. Their infamous Facebook meltdown pushed things over the edge. The company eventually closed its doors.

What happened with Amy’s Baking Company is an over-the-top example, and it certainly doesn’t represent the norm. But it’s a lesson every business should learn about how social media practices impact customer loyalty and brand image.

The number one rule of online reviews: You should always respond to negative Facebook posts, comments and reviews. By choosing to stay silent, you allow the consumer to have the last word and give the impression that you simply want the problem to go away. You should also fight the temptation to remove negative posts, which could actually backfire, as consumers will be suspicious if every review is overwhelmingly positive.

Use caution when responding

In the same way that you should never write an email while angry, you shouldn’t respond to a negative review if you’re feeling angry or hurt. If you need to, take a few hours to calm down before responding. Be respectful of the customer’s opinions and respond in a way that shows you want to make it right. When you respond to negative reviews with patience and sincerity, you send a clear signal to your other customers.

Dishonest reviews

What about the times when a customer is actually dishonest in a review? While your first instinct may be to aggressively defend your reputation, don’t. Apologize for the customer’s experience, point out any false details without addressing blame or becoming defensive and make every attempt to make it right. Even if there’s nothing you can do to change a customer’s mind in a particular circumstance, other customers will see how well you handled the situation.

Above all, you shouldn’t take personal offense to Facebook comments and reviews, but you should take them seriously. By responding in a prompt and thoughtful manner, you can turn a bad experience into a positive impression.

Consumers expect businesses to be active on social media, and they use customer comments and reviews to help them make buying decisions. Every business should take steps to generate customer reviews and carefully respond to negative reviews. (It’s a nice touch to respond to positive reviews – a simple “thank you” will do.) A reputation management tool can help you keep track of your online customer reviews and your all-important online reputation.

Watch this free demonstration video to see how ReviewMaxer software works and how it improves your online reputation.

Photo credit: Pablo

Written by: Matt Harding

Matt Harding is the founder and creative director at Fan & Fuel in Carlsbad, CA. The design and digital strategy group creates branding, e-commerce, social media and digital marketing solutions to connect audiences in the manufacturing, service, retail and lifestyle trend markets.


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