As you may know, my boyfriend and I moved into a new house a few months ago. The house needed a lot of TLC when we got it. As a result, we’ve had quite a bit of work done, both inside and out, to the new place.
We found the people to do the work in all kinds of places: Craigslist, referrals from friends and neighbors, coupons, Angie’s List, and an advertisement on the side of a truck!
You might think that the quality of work we received varied based on where we found the company. But it didn’t. Everyone did a great job. Even the guys we hired off of Craigslist to grind up some stumps worked exceptionally hard for the money they earned.
What did vary between companies was the Customer Service Experience: in other words, the experience around the delivery of the actual service.
Most of the companies we’ll use again and recommend to others. But in one case, the experience was so horrible that I wouldn’t wish the same experience on my worst enemy! The unhappiness with the experience drove me to not only tell all of my friends and family to avoid them, but to post a review of the experience online as well.
Do you know what your customers/clients are saying about you?
Word of Mouth is still a great way to get the word out about your business. Some businesses rely on word-of-mouth as their sole form of marketing. This is based on the idea that happy customers tell others about their experiences.
In the pre-Internet days, you could count on a happy customer to tell 10 of his/her friends about a good experience with a company. But an unhappy customer would tell 30.
With the advent of the Internet – and in particular, the growth of sites devoted to reviewing businesses – the number of people that unhappy customer can reach has increased exponentially. And a VERY unhappy customer who is motivated to get the word out about a bad experience has countless places to use as their soapbox. They can reach not only their friends and family instantaneously, not only their local community, but the world!
That unhappy customer has a lot more power to affect a business now. And for this reason, it is important to know what is being said about you online; about you personally, your business, and your products or services. When you monitor what is being said, you can be proactive in your dealings with those who are unhappy about your company and potentially turn these unhappy customers into raving fans (and rescue your reputation online).
JetBlue uses Twitter to monitor its reputation online. Several years ago, a family traveling on JetBlue had a problem with their assigned seats: the seat assigned to the father was separate from his wife and infant daughter. He wanted to change his seat so that he could help with the baby during the flight. He tried to change the seats at the ticketing counter without luck. Then he tried at the gate and still didn’t have any luck. Not even the Customer Service Desk could help him. Frustrated, he posted to his 500 Twitter followers about the situation. JetBlue was monitoring what was said about it on Twitter, saw his Tweet, and intervened to get the family re-seated – and all before the plane left the gate!
Monitoring your business reputation online is as simple as setting up some simple monitoring systems:
Monitor what’s being said across the Internet with a Google Alert. You can set up a Google Alert for any keyword or phrase. A digest of all the new pages matching your criteria will be emailed to you, either as it happens or once a day. Create an alert for your name, your business name, and the names of your products and services. Cost: FREE.
You don’t need your own Twitter account to see what is being said about you on Twitter. Do real-time searches on Twitter.com by keyword or set up an alert to email you every hour with Twilert.com Cost: FREE
Industry Specific Sites:
Sites like Angie’s List (contractors, medical practitioners), Zagat.com (restaurants) and Yelp.com (just about everything) make it easy for your customers to write and post reviews. There may be one or more that reviews the types of services you provide. Find the ones that serve your local area and service type, and then monitor them regularly (once a week or more) for new reviews. Some of these sites may require you to pay a fee in order to see (and manage) the reviews about you. This small investment is worth protecting your reputation.
As a business owner, you’ve trained your employees on how to deliver outstanding customer service, but that doesn’t mean it happens every day, for every customer. Use the power of the Internet and Social Media to stay in touch with ALL of your customers so you can address any issues that come up in a timely manner. Who knows, you might just discover just how much your customers really love you!