In a series of studies from the late 1970s through the late 1990s conducted by the research firm TARP, it was found that only 50% of consumers will complain about a problem to a company. And on average, twice as many people are told about a bad experience than they are about a good experience. TARP’s last basic finding is that customers who complain and are satisfied are up to 8% more loyal than if they had no problem at all.
These studies provide us some valuable lessons- unhappy customers are likely to never even let you know that they are unhappy, but they WILL tell their colleagues and friends. Even if you have an excellent customer service department that resolves problems quickly, which actually helps your relationship with customers more than if they had never had a problem, you will often never have the chance to address these issues.
These problems are compounded by the fact that the prevalence of social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, MySpace, Blogs, etc.) make it very easy for someone to spread the word about your company. Since they are twice as likely to do so when upset as they are when happy, it is simple for a customer to express their disdain for a company or product to dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of contacts. If you never hear about a problem, how can you possibly hope to resolve it and get a chance to turn that unhappy customer into an evangelist that spreads the word about your great customer service?
Luckily, there are ways to combat this problem. Here are three essential tasks that are essential for managing your online reputation. These will give your company the best chance possible to keep your customer base satisfied by helping you find customers that are expressing problems with your organization of which you are unaware.
1) Set a Google Alert for your company name- Go to: http://www.google.com/alerts – complete the form, entering your company name or any product names you wish to monitor. You can set up multiple alerts for different terms you wish to monitor. When you have done this, once a day you will receive an e-mail letting you know about any new information about your company and products that have been added to their database. This will allow you to quickly discover both negative and positive comments.
2) Search Twitter at least weekly for these same terms. This can be done in an automated fashion with a Twitter client such as Tweetdeck, or manually through searches on the Twitter website. Again, the purpose of this is to find both negative and positive feedback about your organization.
3) If you sell products, either through your own website or through online retailers and partner sites, search product and company reviews for new comments about your company and products. Whether they are sold through amazon.com, newegg.com, or even on your own site, it is imperative that you read the latest reviews.
Now that you have seen the latest feedback your customer base has about your company, respond appropriately. If persons are making positive comments, thank them publicly by posting replies to their tweets, blog posts, and reviews. You may also wish to respond with coupons or other special offers as a way to solidify their positive feelings about your company.
If someone has left negative feedback, publicly make it known that you would like to discuss their issue with them, and provide a means for them to do so. Then make sure that you treat their concerns with a high priority in your customer service department. You likely only have one chance to get it right with an already upset customer. Lastly, once you successfully resolve the issue with an upset customer, ask them to publish their satisfaction in the same manner as they did their complaint.
Following these tips will help you find unresolved customer complaints and deal with them appropriately.