“The customer is always right” has always been something of a misguided philosophy, since there are some people that are practically impossible to please. But in an age of instant communication, it’s become more important than ever to deal with disgruntled buyers before they go public with their complaints. That’s because the Internet spreads “word of mouth” at lightning fast speed, and since bad news tends to take precedence over good news, it only takes one harsh comment from an unsatisfied buyer to deter dozens or hundreds of other people from doing business with you in the first place.
Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to diffuse all but the most incensed and irate customers. Here are a handful of tips to help you come up with more customer service “wins”… and preserve your online reputation at the same time.
Get all the facts
Before you argue with the customer, online or off, make sure they truly were mistaken. It’s often easier to put off your response by an hour than it is to take back something you shouldn’t have said or written.
Make amends publicly
When you do make a customer service mistake, try to be up front about the fact that you’re fixing it – especially if it’s on a public forum or review site. This is a great way to turn a negative into a positive, and show future customers that you value their business.
Err on the side of generosity
When in doubt, give a little bit more (in the way of discounts, coupons, or whatever else it takes to save an account) than you feel like you have to. Yes, it eats into your bottom line a bit, but that’s a small price to pay for great reputation, and a lot fewer people will take advantage than you would think.
Search your own company name frequently
The last thing you want is to be blindsided by a poor reputation online, so make sure you look up your company on Google, Yahoo, and important industry sites at least once a month.
Watch out for scams
There are cases of unscrupulous business owners trying to subvert the competition by acting like angry customers. If you spot something fishy about a review, do a little bit of homework; there’s a small chance it might turn out to be a fake.
Flood the Internet with good news about your business
Of course, the easiest way to protect your company’s online reputation is by having dozens or hundreds of happy buyers speak up. Make sure you do the very best work you can, and then don’t be shy about asking people to post reviews and impressions.
BusinessCreator, Inc. is a full service web solutions provider, with a dedicated marketing team that specializes in local search and reputation management. For more information or to obtain a free proposal, contact: