We see them every day – complaints on social media about bad products, terrible customer service or general bad business practices. In the States, Comcast is now known less for its internet services and more for the spectacularly bad service they provide – something that everyone knows about due to the copious number of negative comments on their Facebook page. More locally, big brands like Cadbury have to deal with negative comments being shared publicly each day, as customers take to Facebook to share every negative (and hopefully positive) feeling.
Complaints and negative reviews online have a nasty tendency to snowball. Popular Mount Eden restaurant Molten discovered that all too well when a customer gave a negative review on a review site, which was then responded to by a staff member who felt their comments were unfounded. Another prominent restaurateur then got involved, lambasting review sites as being “parasitic” to the hospitality industry.
Without an easily accessible feedback platform, customers who have a negative experience will take to social media; which is mobile, available and extremely responsive. It’s also difficult to control. The public forum social media presents means that one negative comment puts your brand’s reputation on the line. Your customers know this, and they know they are likely to get a response if they complain about their experiences publicly.
Responding to feedback quickly via social media is vital, as it shows your proactivity and takes the fuel away from the fire. However, if it gets to the point that customers are complaining, the damage has already been done.
The challenge is getting customers to engage directly, in a way that will allow you to manage their feedback and experiences. We developed Customer Radar out of a desire to create a feedback platform that’s in front of the customer while they are in your store or restaurant, or soon afterwards. This allows businesses to offer their customers an easy way to give feedback, while giving business owners access to their feedback in a constructive and useful format. It also increases the chance for owners to diffuse negative customer feedback and avoid similar social media blowouts in the future.
Exposing your brand to complaints may seem counter-intuitive, but even the most successful businesses receive flack. Rather than shying away from comments or reviews, offering easy platforms for customers to offer feedback, and embracing and reacting to their comments will allow your brand to flourish. Given that almost one in three Kiwis is frustrated with the way companies deal with customer complaints, there is huge potential to win these people over by being better at dealing with complaints.
Managing customer feedback is key to retention. Attracting new customers helps your business to grow, but existing customers keep your business running, so it’s important to keep them happy. As a business owner, dealing with criticism is never pleasant, but it’s vital to your reputation that you do so in an efficient, effective manner. After all, who wants their brand publicly shamed?