Putting Yourself Out There

by Peter Harling November 9, 2015
November 9, 2015

It’s modern times people, it’s no longer ‘shameful’ or ‘dirty’ to Google yourself. Everyone does it, they’re just afraid of what society will think if they admit it. Anyone who works in a ‘service’ industry, restaurants or hotels for example, will, or damn well should, know all about Yelp and it’s type. Giving users a chance to leave effectively anonymous feedback, review sites have spread and risen up in popularity tenfold in the last few years. It isn’t just restaurants and hotels that need to worry though, pretty much any business, in any sector, are subject to the whims of customers telling the world about their experience. So what do you do about it?

Legions of amateur critics are signed up to Yelp, a free account and a desire to tell the world about their Nicoise salad are all it takes, and delusions of grandeur aside they’re making a big difference to which businesses thrive and which die. The best of these sites can truly say they are independent which is a point in their favour. They don’t remove or alter reviews in return for payment and the sanctity of a customer experience is held very strongly. Equally though there are many companies out there that fear the power of these sites. Without strong checks in place on who is signing up the system is open to quite high abuse. Reviewers with an ulterior motive, a differing ideology to the company or a rival business, can start a smear campaign with little repercussions to themselves. Banning a free account is really meaningless when all it takes is another email address and a little patience to do it all over again, leaving the onus of work on the recipient to clean down the reviews and ensure accuracy.

This makes it all the more vital that in your business you have someone on the payroll who deals with social media and interacts with the public. With Twitter and Facebook customers are now beginning to expect a company to have someone they can contact directly with questions and queries who’ll answer quickly, helpfully and, above all, humanly. It does little good anymore to have a template response, ‘We’re looking into your complaint and we will deal with in due course’ just doesn’t cut it. People want to read a human reply. The agent has to engage with the customer, speak specifically about their issue and offer something beyond vagaries of ‘doing something’. If you haven’t got someone to do this, find one.

So, as with anything, there’s a cost attached to this. The returns on this aren’t obvious but played correctly they can be huge and easily recoup the outlay. Consider that each tweet sent to you is going to potentially be seen by thousands and every Facebook post could stay there for years. What you have is access to each of these customers own personal network, and the network of everyone within that network. You can reach out to a multitude of potential customers, demonstrate to each of them that your business is made up of human beings and that you genuinely care about the customer experience. You’ve also got access to a vast infrastructure of market research. If someone approaches you with an issue turn it around and tweet out a question, ‘who else has been affected by this? How important is it to you?’ the responses will be gold and it won’t be a phone survey asked of twenty thousand disinterested sods at the end of a phone waiting to hang up. Respondents will be made up of those with a genuine interest or they won’t bother responding.

Don’t dismiss these reviews as cranks because anyone can follow those cranks and you cannot safely predict what difference that could make your business.

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