–by Ryan Chambers
What is the ONE thing a service-based business dislikes the most? Negative customer feedback broadcasted on social media and review sites for the entire cyber world to read.
Unfortunately, there is always that ONE disgruntled customer that you just can’t please – no matter how hard you try. He or she then decides to write a negative review on your company’s Facebook page, Twitter, Yelp or FourSquare. The post could be true or it could be a lie. But the problem isn’t whether the review is true or false. Despite the nature of the post, it’s not JUST negative feedback that is the ‘big deal’. It’s when that post goes unnoticed that you can run into big trouble with your brand’s reputation.
BUT all is not lost when it comes to preserving and enhancing your online reputation. In order to maintain a healthy image in the social sphere and keep your brand’s reputation intact, follow these five social media, guest engagement, and customer service tips – you will keep (almost) everyone happy…from your staff to customers.
1. Have a Customer Service Policy Plan in Place
Be proactive and address negative customer situations by establishing customer service policies. Make sure employees and managers are on the same page. Communicate on a regular basis with your employees and set a good leadership example. It takes 12 positive service experiences to make up for one negative experience. Make sure that ALL employees understand the importance of delivering great customer service. Your business can’t afford to have a customer walk way unhappy, especially when your team had opportunities to successfully address and fix the problem.
2. Don’t Ignore Complaints – Not Even the Smallest Ones
When a customer complains, offer ways to make it right with your customers. Do not allow them to step outside the door UNTIL they are happy or you have corrected the error if possible. Sometimes it’s unavoidable and you can’t please everyone…and you will have to let Ms. Angry Customer walk out the door. BUT make every attempt to right the wrong before she walks away and tweets nasty reviews to her1,000 plus friends.
3. Encourage Guests to Post Their Positive Experiences
Ask your favorite, loyal and happy customers to post their positive experiences on social media networks and on review sites. Happy customers who get their issue resolved tell about 4-6 people about their experience. When you engage loyal customers on social media channels, you create potential brand ambassadors that money can’t buy.
4. Create Loyalty Contests & Give-Aways for Fans
In order to be effective, customer loyalty campaigns do not have to be complex and difficult to execute. Social media contests and give-aways are an easy to say “thanks” and show your appreciation for your loyal customer base. If you reward your customer, they will come back for more… and social media “word of mouth” will spread even faster.
5. Spell Out HR Policies From Day 1
Unfortunately, the most damaging reviews on social media could potentially come from disgruntled former employees. Work with your HR department or legal advisor to make sure you are legally protected from former employees spreading disparaging comments after they leave. Remember to set a good example by NOT spreading gossip or sharing confidential information about your employees. An effective way to protect your company is to conduct employee exit interviews—which allows them to air their grievances (verbally or written) with HR or management before they walk out the door.
At its core, social media is a collection of engagement and marketing tools that, when leveraged effectively, can bring priceless benefits to your organization AND bottom-line. But businesses should first implement policies, practices and develop a proactive culture that helps reduce negative and harmful feedback online.
Ryan Chambers - About the Author:
As a native Jamaican, Ryan Chambers was literally born into the hospitality world – restaurants and hotels are in his blood line. His dad was an executive chef for a major hotel in Jamaica for 35 years, and his mom was an executive for Hilton Hotels. In 2003, Ryan started one of the first social networking companies, in2ism.com, which combined lifestyle content with social networking. His marketing career led him to help independent restaurant owners launch and develop their brands.
In 2006, Ryan launched Adapt Marketing & Design. Adapt is a boutique internet marketing and creative agency delivering innovative results to restaurant, food service, and hospitality technology companies. Ryan is a marketing graduate and former collegiate champion high jumper from University of Texas at Arlington. Ryan is happily married with a three year-old daughter who is an aspiring gourmand – she loves salmon and broccoli.
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