Ok, so you’ve had a bad review online. While it’s not ideal, it happens. And it certainly doesn’t mean you need to hit the Panic Button.
If this is the first time, remember, you can’t make everybody happy all the time.
But, if it’s not the first time and in fact you’ve noticed it’s been happening more frequently than just every now and again, then it’s definitely time to review what’s going on and carefully assess the quality of the experience you offer your customers.
Here are some of the most important steps for getting things in order and ensuring customers are saying how fabulous you are to deal with if they post comments about their dealings with your business online.
In some ways, a bad review should be considered a great thing. It prompts us to take note of what happened and seek to understand what we can do to prevent it from happening again.
If one person has complained about it, there’s a pretty good chance someone else has had a similar experience with you but chose not to mention it.
Research has found that about 96% of unhappy customers don’t bother to let us know. That means for every 27 people who leave less than happy, only 1 will be ticked-off enough to let us know about it and give us an opportunity to set things right.
Most of the rest just walk away and tell other people about their bad experiences. If that happens in the form of an online rant, the consequences can be pretty dire indeed.
In today’s market, your online presence is more important than ever because most consumers combine clicks and bricks in a blended approach of both online and in-store shopping for their everyday purchases.
I shudder when I hear business owners make comments like, “Facebook’s a waste of time... I don’t bother with social Media”.
The problem with this attitude is if they’re not monitoring what’s being said online, it leaves them dangerously exposed to negative comments going unchecked and potentially costing them business if customers read them as they conduct their pre-purchase research.
Omni-Channel Shopping refers to the practice of consumers who either:
Regardless of the size of your business, someone should be appointed to the responsibility of keeping an eye on what’s being said about the experiences people have reported.
A timely and appropriate response to someone who has been disappointed with their treatment will in many instances not only defuse the situation but possibly even flip it. anybody following the post will appreciate any action taken to correct the situation and the complainant can even be turned back into a fan if they feel they’ve been heard, respected and satisfied.
I certainly don’t subscribe to the theory that the customer is always right, but I do believe we don’t always have to tell them when they’re wrong so avoid the temptation to ignore them or worse still refute them in the public arena in an attempt to prove it was their fault not yours.
A common mistake I’ve observed is for businesses to believe that the provision of a quality product or service is all they need to do to keep their customers happy. The truth however, is that while they might indeed walk away with exactly what they were hoping for, if they were not also happy with the way in which they were served during the transaction, you very well might still end up with a bad wrap online.
Given the internet now provides shoppers with access to a global marketplace and the opportunity to source whatever it is you deal in from many alternate suppliers, the quality of the experience is now the key to competitive advantage.
So, don’t fall into the trap of believing that just because you’re confident your widgets are of the highest possible quality, you don’t need to worry about what’s being said about your approach to serving your customers.
TIP: Set-up Google Alerts to advise you of any content being posted online that includes the name of your business so you don’t miss anything.
One thing you can easily do to tip the balance in your favour and counter the occasional negative comment, is make sure there’s plenty of positive comment out there for people to read too.
As mentioned, it is unrealistic to believe you will never upset anyone or get bad reviews, so it makes sense to take a proactive approach to managing this aspect of your reputation.
If you know most of your customers are happy, that’s great, but everybody else needs to know it too. Ask your happy customers to provide you with testimonials (videos are best) and be sure to post them not only to your website but also on whatever social platforms you are using to reach your market.
TIP: Offer incentives for reviews (a chance to win something) and explain their feedback (positive or negative) helps you deliver better standards in customer service
We’ve all heard the suggestion we need to put ourselves “in their shoes” every now and then to gain a customer’s perspective of our business.
In reality though, most people struggle to do this adequately or often enough because they’re just too busy.
In order to fully appreciate as many of the relevant factors as you can, it’s necessary to regularly take time out to carefully map out the transactional pathway for customers seeking the products and services you offer.
This process needs to not only account for as many aspects as possible of what happens during the time they are actively engaged with your business but also in the periods prior to and post transaction.
By seeking an in depth understanding of each step of the journey, we can better anticipate what and how we need to facilitate their needs and expectations at each point. Taking care to consider both rational and emotional aspects of every stage so we are better equipped to demonstrate appropriate levels of empathy when required.
Remember, each new customer should be viewed as an opportunity to establish another Customer for Life not just achieve a one-time deal. Your attention to their personal needs will not only impact the likelihood of the immediate opportunity but quite likely all future ones too.
Once you’ve established an understanding of what needs to be achieved at each of the touch points, the next step is to take a very honest and objective look at how successfully you and your team are ticking those boxes.
This enables you to identify the areas of the business that you need to address and provides a framework for developing and refining your processes and the skills of those involved in delivering them.
TIP: Be sure to engage all relevant stakeholders in the process to capture their point of view too. Some of the most valuable insights will obviously come from those who interact directly with your customers but don’t overlook the value of also seeking input from those who support your frontline team.
Having completed the Mapping exercise, the next step is to activate an ongoing program for assessment of each element of the Customer Experience.
It is necessary to include each of the critical touch points identified and then consider each of the following:
I use a structured approach for this process that I call a Customer WalkTM. This system addresses five key categories of factors that impact on the experience your customers have in their interactions with you and your team.
The categories included in this tool are:
I recommend these CX Assessments should be conducted at least once a quarter and for best results, consider the feedback and survey results from your team and customers where relevant.
TIP: You can download a copy of my Customer WalkTM CX Self-Assessment Template by clicking the image below.
As mentioned, an occasional bad review shouldn’t necessarily have you hitting the Panic Button.
Before you’re tempted to make any brash decisions or unwarranted changes, be sure to check where you’re really at.
If you’re not already doing so, regular surveys of your Customers will keep you informed of how you’re tracking.
The important thing is to keep your surveys short enough that they don’t take too long to complete without missing the opportunity to collect enough data to use in the process of refining the aspects of your service that need attention.
Most people who have had an issue with the experience they had with you and are bothering to let you know, will probably also want and opportunity to tell you how it should have been.
This provides you with a fantastic opportunity to collect information and ideas about what and where you need to make changes to your customer environment to avoid future repeat occurrences.
The most progressive organisations also conduct regular surveys of their staff and suppliers to seek their input on how you’re travelling, where improvements can be made and what other businesses are doing to improve the experiences they offer their customers.
TIP: To understand the quality of the relationships you have with your customers, consider complimenting your Customer Satisfaction surveys with a Net Promoter Score® (NPS) Survey.
One of the best practices to help you stay at the forefront of your industry is to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. Regularly monitoring what the other players in your industry are doing enables you to follow any current trends and maintain your status as a preferred supplier in your industry.
One of the best resources to do this is through your trusted customers. Many of them will probably be well aware of what’s going on in your sector as they will have often done their research before coming to you.
Consider also what you or your staff have experienced as a customer in other industries. What were the best ideas and experiences you’ve come across that could be adapted and introduced into your business?
TIP: Try mystery shopping your competitors. You can do this yourself or have a friend or relative do it for you and report back on their findings.
I have three basic requirements when assessing processes.
1. Are they customer centric?
In many cases, processes are carefully designed to deliver the technical outcome they are required to achieve but not really reviewed from the customers perspective to consider the impact they will have on achieving the most important outcome of all... Customer Satisfaction.
2. Have they been documented?
It’s remarkable how many gaps are discovered when you sit down and document a process.
Processes need to cover as many scenarios and “What if” type questions as possible. By attempting to anticipate even the most unlikely events, you can design in how those should be or could be dealt with to maintain outcomes your team and customers will be happy with.
I equate it to how many times a software developer needs to run a coded sequence before they get it absolutely right.
The other great benefit of documented processes is that they can be more easily passed on to speed up the onboarding of new or temporary staff and minimise the impact on team productivity.
3. Are they continually reviewed?
With the level and rate of change to so many aspects of business, it is frightening how many business owners fail to take an objective look every now and then at how well they’re doing what they’re doing.
They kid themselves that they don’t need to change anything and repeatedly roll out that old chestnut, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. But if they took an honest look or sought third party feedback, they’d probably find numerous ways to tweak and refine how things happen day by day to deliver better results.
Whilst the primary targets are always to achieve improvements in quality, time and costs, the overarching objective should always be to increase customer satisfaction. It really doesn’t matter how successfully you control any of the other metrics if you don’t have enough customers to sell to.
TIP: Schedule annual reviews for all processes and relevant documentation. Always test new processes and be prepared to tweak them further based on any feedback you get.
We’ve all heard the suggestion that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. While I don’t entirely agree with this notion, I do appreciate that having people talk about you is still better than not being known about at all. So long as you are also taking an active approach to minimising and righting the wrongs you are accused of.
My recommendation is to appoint a CX Champion (or Committee in a larger organisation) who is responsible for conducting the on-going practice of reviewing and refining all aspects of the Customer Experiences you provide.
If this is your approach, then putting out the fires as quickly as they are lit will be easy and you will no-longer need to live in fear of an occasional bad review online.
For more information on Mapping the Customer Journey or any of the other steps covered in this article please contact JB.
If you found this article interesting, please "Like" it and share it with your networks using the Social Media links below.