If you are a business owner or provide a professional service to the public there are some new influences that you need to be aware of that could help or hinder your business and image.
It’s inevitable if you are in business or provide a professional service that you will have someone who is dissatisfied with your product or service.
In years past, their dissatisfaction was expressed usually by a phone call to your office, a letter or e-mail. For the most part it remained somewhat of a private venting with maybe that disgruntled person talking to a couple of their close friends.
Well the times have changed….
Now with the internet, and review sites such as “Yelp” , those unhappy customers or clients can now make their opinions and feelings known to the whole community!
Many businesses and professionals aren’t even aware that this assault is even happening.
It can cause serious repercussions and influence people. These opinions on sites like “Yelp” are going to define who you are to the rest of the community.
So the million dollar question is what do you do about these opinions and conversations that are happening about you?
You influence them…
The first reality that you need to understand is that you cannot control the conversations that are happening, you can only influence them. But the challenge that I see time and time again is that business are not even aware that these conversations are even going on, or worse they are aware but are ignoring them!
I am going to set the stage for a few basic rules that may be helpful for you to implement into your Public Relations strategy.
It would be a good practice to monitor what is being said about your business or service. It’s equally important to know what people are saying about your profession as a whole. This practice can be done about once a month. The frequency of your monitoring would be based on how much business you are doing. If you are a large company that is touching thousands of people per week it may be a good idea to have a dedicated group of people in your company responsible for this activity. There are also companies that you can outsource this to.
If you find a negative review, don’t ignore it!
Ignoring a negative review can send the wrong messages. People will assume the following:
Your silence is that you’re admitting your short fallings. Or perhaps you just don’t care about customer service.
Rule # 3….
Respond publicly. In order to respond to reviews, you will need to be a member of the sites that the reviews are being posted. It’s best to be pro active and set up accounts with the major review sites. Some of these sites may solicit that you upgrade from a free membership to a paid membership with added features. It is important to mention that you don’t have to be a paying member of these sites to be able to respond to the reviews.
Once you have an account set up, you now can respond to reviews.
Those responses can be either privately or publically. Again, I suggest that you respond publically. It will show the readers that you are concerned about trying to resolve the issue.
Most reasonable people know that you cannot make everyone happy all the time.
If the people reading the negative review at least see an attempt that you are trying to satisfy an un-happy customer or client, that will often times dilute the negative review and give it a lot less weight.
Never, Never, Never be defensive…
One last point that is important to mention. If you are able to resolve the issue; it would not be out of line to ask that person to please go back to the review site and inform the community that you were able to satisfy the matter. If they are not willing to do that, it would not be out of line for you to mention to the community that the matter was handled.
In closing, we live in a world where conversations are happening online in almost real time. Participating in those conversations gives your company a personality and humanizes your brand.
In the coming weeks I will be writing more about review sites. Don’t forget to check out my video blogs as well.