The marketing mistake that costs you business

customer complaints on your social media channels

Have you ever had a really bad customer review?  

A lot of businesses have.  It's not the end of the world.  Things go wrong, deadlines get missed, orders get lost, people are fallible.  There’s plenty been written about how to turn a complaint into a great customer service opportunity.  

Not responding

A few days ago I came across a really, bad review of a company that I knew.  I’m sure the customer who wrote the review had every reason to feel aggrieved but that one bad review is not representative of the business in question.  However, the problem was that this business hadn’t seen the review, so there was no response, and it had been there for a while. Not only that but when I google-searched the business name, this bad review was fourth on the first page of google.  Yikes!

Showing up on every channel

How can this happen?  Well, there are many marketing channels out there and there’s a new one every other day (kind of).  If you have a business you will have marketers, employees, friends and family, telling you that you should be here, you should be there, you should be everywhere. It’s free to set up social media accounts - Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest, You Tube, Google+, and to join communities such as Houzz for interiors or Wanelo for fashion.  It’s tempting to think that your business needs to show up everywhere to stand out and be seen.

Monitoring marketing channels

But really, it’s far more important to manage a few channels really well than have multiple accounts set up and never looked at again.  If you have properly identified your target customers in the first place, you will have a good idea of the best places to find them and can focus on these areas first.  When you have social media accounts it's an invitation for your customers to connect.  Social media is a two way street and not just a channel for broadcasting.  Customers like speedy responses, so rather than email and wait days for a reply or phone and reach an answering service, they can just write a tweet.  So, it’s crucial to be able to monitor accounts that are set up, all the time. At the very least, to have notifications in place and, where possible, automated replies when you’re not available. The worst case scenario is that someone complains on these channels and you don’t see it.

Responding to a bad review

If this does happen, try and resolve it offline.  If that's not possible, respond promptly to the complaint, without justifying or making excuses. Accept their viewpoint and endeavour to do better.  Never enter into an online debate.  Always add an apologetic and understanding response to their online comment as others will see this.  Also, encourage at least three of your best, most loyal customers  to put a review on the same site. A bit of balance is going to help here.  And having one bad review, amongst many good reviews, lends your business some credibility.  It shows you can take criticism and address it, but that most of the time your customers are full of praise.

In any case, it’s a good idea to encourage positive reviews as an ongoing part of your marketing plan. Check out my blog post on encouraging good word-of-mouth for tips and advice.  The fact of the matter is that customers research brands before they buy and reviews by other customers will affect their decision.  If customers discover a new brand online they don't have a lot to go on - a professional website, well presented social media channels and positive reviews are going to be crucial.

Social listening

As well as monitoring the accounts that you have set up yourself, it’s  worthwhile  monitoring the wider online conversation for any mention of your business or the products/services that you sell. It could be blog posts, the media or someone else’s social media account.  Start by setting up 'google alerts' for your business name and keywords. There are also tools available such as Brand 24 and Brandwatch for social listening. These all alert you to any mention of your business or keywords online. Apart from anything else they can provide opportunities to pick up potential leads.

Here’s an example:

social listening on twitter

This person is looking for information on twitter. A retailer of bike racks could pick this up and provide the information required, open up a conversation and maybe end up with a sale. It will also increase exposure to other potential customers.

Refresh your digital content

It's important to keep content relating to your business fresh and up to date.  If anyone googles your business name for research purposes then you want interesting, relevant content to appear ahead of any poor reviews or tenuously related stories which may have negative connotations.  To ensure that your business shows up in a positive light, keep regularly posting and engaging on all your social channels, share useful information in the forms of blogs, videos and news updates.  Seize any opportunity to promote positive news stories to the press.

Outsource your marketing

If all of this is just too much to do on top of running your business, think about outsourcing it to a freelancer.  That's what we're here for!  Feel free to get in touch for more information or leave a comment below.  I love to get feedback.