And you thought negative Yelp reviews were bad…
On Monday, Hasan Syed aired his grievances over his father’s lost luggage in a very high-profile way. He spent $1,000 buying “Promoted Tweets” in order to ensure his complaints against British Airways were prominently displayed at the top of Twitter users’ feeds. Needless to say, it didn’t take long before Twitter users, travel bloggers, the media and just about everyone on earth heard his story. (British Airways eventually apologized to Syed and said his dad’s lost luggage had been found.)
Though most frustrated consumers won’t spend a thousand bucks to air their complaints against a business—particularly a small business—it does bring up some important lessons about how businesses must approach customer service and engagement these days, especially given the power of social media.
Here are five takeaways for business owners from the British Airways publicity mess:
1. Monitor your online reputation like a hawk. You don’t want to be the last person to discover that someone’s been disparaging your business online. Make sure to monitor any mentions of your company name, your personal name, or your brand or product name using Twitter and Facebook search tools and Google Alerts. Online reputation management tools like Trackur and Naymz can help. SocialMouths.com looks at five free tools to help manage an online reputation.
2. Take every complaint seriously. You never know which customers are going to be angriest and create an uproar about their experiences. Clearly, upset customers have plenty of high-profile ways for getting the word out, from promoted tweets to promoted Facebook postings to writing blog posts that get linked to by media sites. Small businesses, in particular, have no excuse for at least trying to win back every unhappy customer.
3. Fix problems quickly. Chances are, if one person dislikes something about your business so much that they’re willing to spend time posting an online review—or even spending money to promote it—that it’s a problem that will continue to harm your reputation. An earnest apology might cheer up one disgruntled customer, but it won’t prevent other customers from having the same problem. You ultimately should be using online reviews and customer feedback to improve your business and identify shortcomings in customer service.
4. Promote the good. Ultimately, you want your happiest customers to be the ones generating publicity for you—not your angriest ones. Turn your happy and loyal customers into evangelists: Encourage them to promote your business by putting reviews on online review sites like Yelp and Google. Engage them through social media, and encourage them to spread the word about your business. Make the good drown out the bad.
5. Get your employees on board. Unless you’re a one-person business, you can’t control every interaction your company has with your customers. So you need to make sure your employees are committed to providing top-notch customer service. Essentially, you need to engrain a service mentality culture, especially among employees on the front lines who work with customers every day. That also means making sure your employees feel valued and content. Unhappy employees will ultimately lead to unhappy customers. (Globoforce.com provides useful tips on how to turn employees into “brand ambassadors.”)
Read more articles about social media.
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