Social Media can be your best friend or your worst enemy. With websites like Yelp and blogs that circulcate everywhere, it is easier than ever for a customer to impact your company’s image. No matter how great a company is, they will most likely deal with a disgruntled customer at least once in their life span. Reputation management is not about avoiding the inevitable customer rant, (although if you get them often you may want to re-evaluate your business processes), but about dealing with them in an effective manner so that the customer feels they were heard.
With the success of the ABC show Scandal, we can finally see the amount of work that is dedicated to appearing perfect for the outside world. The show follows the true story of Judy Smith, a professional crisis manager responsible for big names such as George Bush Sr. and Monica Lewinski. Although dramatized and very extensive, the work done in real life and portrayed on the screen can be directly applied to any reputation management problem you may have – including online.
A few weeks ago, during an Oprah Winfrey interview, Judy Smith explained how she would have handled some of the biggest scandals that have unfolded in recent years. For example, she believes that Tiger Woods handled his cheating situation poorly. Instead of dragging his story out, he should have just come clean in the beginning. By keeping the number of mistresses a secret, the scandal never ended because more and more women kept coming forward. This all could have been avoided if Tiger had been honest from the start with the public.
So what can we learn from this brilliant advice (besides don’t freak out)? It’s easy: address the situation in a timely matter, come clean from the start, and don’t become defensive.
- Be timely. If your company receives a bad review online and you take too long to respond, no matter what you say, it will feel disingenuous. Tiger lost fans not only because of his infidelity, but because he didn’t feel the need to share the truth until it was too late. As intimidating as it is to respond to a disgruntled customer, saying nothing only proves that customer service does not lie at the center of your company’s values.
- Be Honest. If a customer accuses you for something you did, DON’T DENY IT. Own up to your actions and include with them the whole truth. It is hard to get in a good place if everything you were hiding about a situation comes forward each day. By admitting you were wrong and sharing the steps you will take to prevent the problem in the future, you can move on from the negative and start focusing on the positive.
- Be Sincere In Your Apology. Nobody likes an apology that is quickly followed by an excuse. No matter how right you think you were, the customer needs to be happy at all times. If you say sorry for the act that was committed and follow it up with the reasons why the customer received that type of service – nothing was gained. In the same way Tiger blamed his escapades on a problematic addiction, a company’s first reaction is commonly to explain why they did what they did. Drop the act and just be sorry for the mistake you made. In the end, the customer is always right and it will benefit you to show you care enough to put the customer first.
Now that we have gone through these simple steps of reputation management, it is important to note that you won’t win them all. Some customer complaints need to be personally worked out offline. In these instances, keep the viewers in the loop by posting how the situation was ratified after the issue has been solved. Even then, there will always be people who will try and take advantage of your hospitality and fight to the end about what they think they deserve – even when you genuinely did nothing wrong. In these unique instances remember that not every customer will want to return, no matter how accommodating you are. Do what is right for your company’s values and don’t dwell on those who refused to be helped. Now go forward in good prosperity and don’t let those customer comments bring you down with them!
By: Dana Andersen, Creatine Marketing
For more tips and an insight of what we do, contact Creatine Marketing for a free week of social media generated sales leads!
This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 at 7:31 am
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