In the digital age, online reviews are the second most trusted source of feedback on a brand (the first being family and friends). Online reviews give consumers the perception that brands are transparent and open to criticism and dialogue – in other words, these brands are seen as more authentic. Brands that can take negative reviews, address customer concerns and turn them into a positive interaction are the ones that will win the digital battle.
Retail Category Consultants has written about the three steps to effectively address negative customer reviews online. In this post, we write about how online customer reviews—and how they are addressed—can help you strengthen your brand.
1. Help the Unhappy Customer Leave You
Go Daddy is known for their out-of-the box commercial ideas, which occasionally offend some viewers. One of their customers announced on Twitter that she would no longer be using Go Daddy’s services because she did not want to be associated with an offensive brand. Instead of lashing back or trying to win back this customer, Go Daddy offered to help the customer switch over to her new server and provide her with all the needed information to make a clean and easy transition.
Go Daddy’s apology and unexpected offer allowed them to show others their good customer service.
The way Go Daddy handled this situation is a pointed example of how to use negative customer reviews to deepen existing customer relationships.
2. Separate Marketing and Customer Service
TopShop’s main Twitter handle serves as a branding tool which focuses on product, while it maintains a separate Twitter account to handle customer queries. This achieves two things: complaints do not get blended in with marketing messages; and customers tweeting to the Help account are asked to follow and DM the account so that details of complaints can be taken off-line and handled on a one-on-one basis.
This is consistent with TopShop’s service philosophy, and makes for a more seamless experience.
Furthermore, there is a greater chance of customer recovery if the heat and emotions behind an online complaint can be defused.
3. Look Beyond the Tweet
Retailers are somewhat more fortunate than providers in the hospitality industry, such as hotels, restaurants and airlines, which are reviewed – often with long essays – on the major review sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor. Here, consumers are not limited to 140 characters and will vent to their hearts’ content. But sometimes, this can be a disadvantage as well. If you get a 140-character summary of an issue, there is a tendency to make assumptions about the real root cause of the issue and which leads to a solution that does not fix the real problem, or that ignores it altogether.
Retailers must be aware of all online activity of their brand, including independent review sites where they are not able to respond.
Doing so may reveal consistent themes or patterns in product or service issues, giving retailers a much clearer and detailed view and a chance to proactively address a recurring issue. This is the least expensive form of primary customer research to help you form action plans for improvement that will further strengthen your brand and humanize your customer service. Then use your 140 characters to tell your followers all the positive changes you’ve made.
And Always Remember…
Retailers and brands must keep in mind that customers don’t go out of their way to damage your reputation. By giving you a chance to resolve an issue, they are already telling you that they are willing to continue engaging with you; they want to give you a chance. By empathizing with dissatisfied customers, using a voice to address them that is consistent with your brand, and keeping all online ears to the ground, you have a greater chance of recovering a customer and exceeding their expectations.