avoid negative online reviews

Hey folks, Nick here to continue our talk about the “Trust Puzzle” as well as briefly talk about negative online reviews and good customer service. Here’s the deal: build out your private lines of communication with your customers as quickly as possible, and then spend the next year refining the (insert expletive here) out of them. One of the most important lessons we have learned with our service-based clients and dealing with their customers online stems from the level of accessibility our clients have available for their customers, especially via digital means. From our own data we have found that more than 65% of dissatisfied customers will reach out to your brand privately to resolve an issue before taking it public. The “Yelp Elite” aside, many folks do not want to speak ill of a brand in a public manner if they can avoid it. However, if a brand does not have readily apparent avenues for dissatisfied customers to pursue (with near-immediate response times from said brand), then social media and review sites like Google Places become the only recourse. This is dangerous for any brand, no matter how big it is. 

Get Proactive, Send a Survey… AND PAY ATTENTION!

The best way to see how your customers feel is by sending a survey. When building out an online strategy with our clients, especially those with high-dollar, infrequent services that folks only use once in a great while (like moving or painting or roofing), we harp on getting a survey system in place immediately. We actually built a system called Catch Engine to help with individual communications with each customers’ experience, a service we now implement for all of our clients. With Catch Engine, you can actually grade customers based on their answers. The system will then respond to the customer with the appropriate response page based on the customer’s responses. More importantly, you can set up alerts using the Catch Engine system to immediately notify you when someone is likely to post a negative online review, simultaneously letting the client know that someone will be in touch with them shortly about their issue. 

With a system like this in place, more often than not you can head customers off at the pass before they go announce their displeasure with your brand to the rest of the world. What’s more, you now have redemption—the opportunity to make it right with said customer and possibly even win them over as a brand ambassador in the future. 

A Teachable Moment – What Not To Do

On the other hand, if you have a survey in place, but do not have a rock-solid system for responding to negative online reviews in a near-immediate manner, you might actually make an annoyed client into a furious client. For example, I thought about writing this blog because of a recent experience I had with the Austin branch of a high-end furniture company who shall remain nameless. Although the sales experience was pleasant enough, their follow-through and delivery was lackluster at best. For buying such expensive furniture, their level of communication during delivery was practically non-existent.

I reached out to their support department about my frustration without ever receiving a response. After my furniture was finally delivered, I then received a survey; which, again, I let them know how frustrating their fulfillment process was for me. Weeks later, still no response. This is normally where review sites would come into play, and not in a good way. I appreciate the company providing me with a teachable moment, but do NOT be like them! Don’t get me wrong, I love my furniture. It’s awesome, but we are not very likely to order from these folks again or recommend anyone else do so either. At least, not until they fix their fulfillment and delivery issue. 

A Teachable Moment – Be Like These Guys

On the flip side we have a number of companies I have no reservations about naming. Square Cow Movers, Patriot Pools and Spas, Austin’s Paint Guys and Soleil Floors actively seek their clients’ feedback. All of these folks use the Catch Engine System to better understand and react to their customers’ feedback. The secret here? Respond within 1 business day to negative feedback. 

The other trick is to have a system in place for those who respond positively. Even if someone is happy with your service, take 2 minutes to follow up with them a week or two after they take your survey to let them know how much you appreciated their patronage, and how you look forward to serving them again. If you are in desperate need of reviews for your brand, cross check the positive responses to your survey with your review sites. Consider incentivizing your past clients who responded favorably to leave honest reviews of your service. But also, do NOT forget about your unhappy clients. They should be responded to immediately. 

It doesn’t matter what system you use, as long as you take the time to respond and act to every client, then it’s well worth the effort.