Feedback for any business is crucial to its success. You can learn what your customers are enjoying as well as areas for improvement. The key to any feedback is it not be attacking but helpful. The people that are providing feedback are doing so as they want to be heard. This is whether the experience is a positive one or a negative one. In the old days, we had feedback forms that could either be filled out during that stay or mailed in on a postcard. There are several ways of gaining feedback from users today and we’re going to look at the top three methods of not only getting feedback but also how to protect your business from negative feedback (as much as possible).
Today things have evolved for the better (some might say for the worse) as feedback is now provided more rapidly and an apparent realm of safety. When someone is behind a keyboard it is less personal, it has a layer of protection, and it is one-sided (until you respond). If the feedback is positive it’s super easy to respond. It’s a simple thank you, we appreciate your business, and we can’t wait to see you again.
When the feedback is received that is negative that is where the problem i for many businesses. You want to respond to this but need to take a really large deep breath. You are so deeply involved with your business that you might come across defensive, even attacking, to the customer's feedback. You never want that to happen and if you do it could fuel a relentless fire from others that see it. This is one of the key benefits a social media manager can bring to the table. They are vested in your business but also deal with these types of situations and study ways to look at diffusing these situations.
It’s not always bad but let’s do a quick look at the three main places people will leave reviews and comments.
By far the simplest for most of your customers as most everyone has a Facebook account. There are three main areas they will leave a comment. The first is on their own profile page. This one you can’t prevent and often won’t even see. This is also the “go to” location when a person has had their comments removed from other areas of Facebook and are now soliciting their friends and family to jump on their bandwagon.
The next area is on your Facebook business page. This is where you will reply to the comment in the most politically correct way if it is negative and be thankful and gracious if it was positive. Reviews here go a far way in bringing in new customers and is a true ranking factor with Facebook on showing people how much others think of your business.
The final place on Facebook is within a group. Here is where it can either be more of a blessing or a curse. Groups can add fuel to something negative very quickly and truly hurt your business. It is not a positive area when things go south. On the other hand, if things are positive they can propel your business to new levels. You need to be monitoring these groups and responding to them appropriately. Many times people will now tag your business directly so you need to be actively watching or have software that watches for your business name for you.
Google has become a very important place on the internet for people looking at reviews. They are actively showing the information within the search results. Not only can people see your average star rating but also see how many reviews you have. This can be a true deciding factor. It’s not as easy as adding information as Facebook as people will need to have a Google account (most people though do) and they need to go to your Google page for the review to happen. It’s harder but still something people actively do. Reviews are definitely a ranking factor within the search engine as if you see two results next to each other and one has a 5-star and the other a 3-star people are going to choose the 5-star more often. So not a huge ranking factor for Google (although we suspect they do rank off of it) the ranking factor is definitely a ranking factor for us humans.
This is where you have more control over everything. Not only can you show reviews left on your website but you can also aggregate the information from sources like Facebook and Google. This aggregation can also have a huge effect on how people perceive your business when they look at your website. Most aggregation you can actually show specific ratings. This means you can show only the positive ratings and not the negative ratings giving you a more positive outward experience.
Tips and Tricks
There are ways to actively solicit responses from customers by sending them a personalized email and asking them to go to a review website. Here they can state whether they had an enjoyable experience or not. Based on the customer's response they can either then be asked to submit a review on Facebook, Google, or other sites. If the response is negative they can be asked for information so that you can address it. Either way, positive or negative, you will be informed of the review and can properly respond to it. The benefit of going this approach is you are actively seeking feedback, you are controlling where the feedback happens, and you have a better chance of preventing negative feedback from hitting the internet as a community and better protect your business.
The first thing to remember when receiving feedback is the person has taken time out of their day as they want to be heard. They do not want to be ignored, even on positive feedback. Feedback should be an area to look for improvement, even from positive feedback. We should all be looking for ways to improve ourselves and our businesses and the more we hear from our customers the more we can make these improvements. We should be constantly soliciting for this feedback from our customers.
A great technique for stopping negative feedback is at the time of sale/transaction to ask a simple question of “Is there anything else we can do for you?” This is the most basic of questions but one that if someone isn’t happy hopefully they respond so that you can fix the matter before they leave. This will garner you more positive feedback. There will still be those that say everything is “fine” and when they leave will push you under a bus. You can’t prevent that but you can have plans and strategies to combat those situations.