Holding a magnifying glass to your business’s blemishes
“It’s hard to find good help these days.”
“Customer Service is dead”
“The customer is always right.”
We’ve all heard these adages when it comes to the interaction between your brand and it’s consumer. These days with the prevalence of social media and online networking your customer’s bad experience is the new water cooler talk.
They’re just not that into you
People have always talked about brands, now social media and technology have the ability to amplify the voice of the customer.
Business fear the risks associated with social media and are afraid of losing control of the brand message. Some believe if they don’t participate in the conversation there won’t be an opportunity for much negative talk. That’s just bad business.
Now everyone and their grandmother has a smart phone and even two year olds can use a tablet. These platforms are well beyond the tipping point; it’s time to embrace the reality that consumers are empowered and in control.
Marketer’s can choose to join the conversation and influence it or continue business as usual. Either way, customers are using these platforms as their stage to put your business on blast.
You’re either with me or you’re not
Smart marketers are paying attention to the conversation. They build communities of raving fans because they realize the conversation is a goldmine when it comes to improving your business practices and having happy customers. JC Penneys said it best “Courteous treatment will make a customer a walking advertisement.”
A raving fan experience is about engaging the customer in a way that is memorable, consistent and controlled by the consumer.
Let’s take a look at three different examples of consumer reviews.
A colleague pointed out a conversation observed on Facebook. A friend had a negative experience with a local business when she purchased and used a Groupon for a massage. What should have been a relaxing afternoon turned into a scandal when her moment of zen was obliterated by a man who moseyed into her massage room.
Now lets take a situation where your feeling very vulnerable (ie NAKED) under a sheet and add a dash of poor business standards and bad customer service. Congratulations, you’ve just concocted the recipe for one irate customer. One who is now going to warn everyone she comes in contact with both in person and virtually to stay away from your facility. Also, note how Groupon didn’t escape the ordeal unscathed either.
Raving Fans To the Rescue
My friend Sam Fiorella recently wrote a post about a New York City restaurant that found themselves embroiled in a controversy. You can read Sam’s post here.
To sum it up a restaurant patron wearing Google Glasses was asked to remove them. Other customers complained they felt uncomfortable. She refused and left in a huff.
Turns out she has a sizeable and rowdy following on Google Plus. When she posted about her experience her followers rallied and as a result a number of negative reviews began to appear on Yelp. People who hadn’t even been to the restaurant jumped on the band wagon and dissed this establishment.
In response Raving Fans of the restaurant came to their aid and to drown out the uproar, began posting positive reviews about the food, service etc.
It turns out Yelp addressed the incident by removing reviews based on the restaurant’s policy instead of the food.
In this instance the reviews a restaurant were hijacked because of a disgruntled customer. Ultimately others did the dirty work and the restaurant sat back reaping the publicity rewards, all because of raving fans.
What did we learn?
- Know your target audience and their specific needs even though serving them.
The restaurant served the best interests of their clients by respecting their privacy during their dining experience. After all, nobody wants someone watching them eat, especially recorded for the world to see.
Sometimes serving your target audience may alienate others so it’s important to understand the needs and desires of your target audience segments.
- Pay attention to your ecosystem, there may be times when your brand is declared guilty by association
Initially Groupon was given the same status as the local business. Based on the emotional response, the person posting the thread stated they were not going to try any more Groupon offers.
Later we find out they are primarily interested in informing Groupon about the experience. If Groupon uses any kind of social media listening software they would probably notice this thread. Even if they choose not to respond it’s potentially important marketplace intelligence.
- Invite feedback
Provide ample opportunity for feedback, especially from customers. Make sure this opportunity is multi-channel so consumers have access online and offline.
More importantly, acknowledge and act on feedback when appropriate. To be clear, it’s always important to acknowledge and express appreciation for the feedback.
Feedback should come from internal stakeholders, especially those frontline associates who have ongoing contact with customers and prospects.
- Know when and how to respond to unfavorable reviews.
Here is a classic real life example of what NOT to do Although the story is a bit dated it highlights several significant missteps.
Some general guidelines:
- Stay positive and not argumentative
- Be factual and transparent as possible
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep, follow through on anything you say you’ll do
- Be respectful and ensure any conversation on your digital assets adheres to this in other words, no personal attacks.
- In almost every instance “less is more” don’t over communicate, at the same time don’t disappear.
- Leave room for your fans to respond.
- Have a plan in place
It’s a real good idea to think about a crisis plan before you actually need it. If you want to DIY it. there are plenty of free templates available. Check out these helpful guidelines from Heidi Cohen.
When it comes to crisis communication plans it’s better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it.
Marketers today are operating in a new environment. Focus on identifying and delivering a memorable experience. As a result, we’ll create raving fans who in turn serve as ambassadors for the brand. Not only do RF’s have more credibility with their peers but their opinions in general carry more weight.
If you need help creating your crisis communication plan or identifying your gaps in the digital sphere claim your complimentary consultation with Strategic Marketing Solutions. Call 804–360-0038.