3 ways to improve your online customer feedback

“If you make customers unhappy in the real world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.”

-Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.com

The days of ducking down and hoping nobody will notice when things go awry are over. These days, if customers get a bad experience, they are likely to share their story with the whole world. Internet review websites are here to stay. So, rather than ignore them or hope they’ll go away, it’s better to deal with them in a positive and proactive way.

Here are three ways you can improve online customer reviews:

1. Get in front of it

Bad online reviews from customers come from bad customer experiences. This happens when a customer gets something vastly different than what they wanted or expected. It could be the product or service is not what they wanted. Or it could be they were treated poorly (in their view). Either way, the customer left feeling your company will not give them what they want. So they write about it online.

You can avoid this by knowing what your customers want and giving it to them. Of course you need to do this in a way that works for your company. You can’t give everyone everything they want. You give them what they want in the context of your business – in a way that is profitable and sustainable for you.

To do this you need to know what they want. So you need to talk to them. Aask them three questions:

  • What do you want from us?
  • How are we doing delivering it?
  • How can we improve?

Do this in a sincere, direct and ongoing way and your customers will have more good experiences than bad. So you’ll have fewer customers who feel the need to slam you online.

2. Start the conversation

Don’t wait for bad online reviews. Once you get these you’ve lost customers and you’ve taken a hit to your reputation. Bad online customer reviews are permanent. Even if the review site takes them down, Google never forgets.

You’re much better off if you start the conversation. This means you tell your customers what to expect when they do business with you.

Do this by creating a set of Customer Experience Promises. They tell customers what to expect from you. They also help frame the conversation with customers.

If you have a set of Customer Experience Promises, and you publish them so customers know what they are, it makes it very easy for customers to tell you what you did right or wrong. Their responses are more likely to be in the context of your promises.

This helps keep feedback more accurate and realistic. It makes it less likely customers will use creative license as they review your company. Framing the conversation with a set of published promises helps focus their feedback more on real issues and less on emotions that could run wild and do more damage to your brand.

3. Make it easy and convenient for customer to give you feedback

One of the worst things in the world is a customer who wants to give you feedback about your company but can’t. Because they don’t know how. Or you make it so cumbersome and time-consuming they decide it’s not worth it.

Then they find an online customer review website and they tell them. Because they make it easy, fast and convenient. (Think Twitter. Does it get any easier, faster or more convenient?)

Every business should have at least three different ways a customer can easily offer them feedback. And it’s not hard to do if you think of the technology available.

Examples:

• Form on your website
• Suggestion box at your location
• Email address just for feedback (feedback@acme.com)
• Toll-free customer feedback hotline

And you need to publicize and promote these. They need to be a top priority not in the fine print on the back of some service agreement. Make it big and bold. Make sure every customer knows how to give feedback. This should be part of conversations employees have with customers.

Finally, you need to convince them you’ll actually do something with their feedback. Start by thanking them for offering feedback. Then address their feedback specifically. Tell them what you’re doing (or will do) about it. Follow up so when the issue is resolved, the customer knows about it.

Your actions will tell your customers how much you value their feedback. Show them and they will continue to give you good feedback.

The article was written by Kevin Stirtz