Don’t Be Afraid of Feedback

As social media grows, so can the ‘social chatter’ about your business or industry – from the man in the street, to your customers and competitors – you are open to review by anyone in the online world who has something to say. Social chatter refers to reviews, star ratings, comments, follows, likes, tweets, digs and posts that people can do on the various online platforms that are available today.

Consumers are more now than ever turning to advice from their online peers, whether it is advice on which restaurant to eat at, which hotel to stay at or which brand has the best version of the product they want. The Internet has brought a whole new meaning to “Word Of Mouth” communication. Consumers can now easily jump online and find the opinions of literally hundreds of trusted peers who have already experienced it for themselves.

Many businesses can find the thought of being so easily and publically judged a little bit intimidating. And if you don’t provide them with a platform to be rated and review on, you can’t be judged right? WRONG! Consumers will use the many ratings and reviews sites that have been catered to hundreds of thousands of industries to get their point across, and people WILL listen.

What you need to do is get involved in the conversation and listen to what they’re saying about you. It’s a fantastic opportunity to talk to your clients and prospects on their terms and actively engage and respond to feedback both positive and negative. It’s a great chance to fix negative perceptions about your business, and to try and steer it back to something positive. A review about a consumer waiting for over an hour for a coffee at their local café can be quickly turned around with an apology and an offer of a free coffee voucher. Acknowledging and trying to fix the issue is far better than sweeping it under the virtual rug.

If you’re still worried about getting negative reviews, don’t be. As long as they are mixed in positive reviews, they can actually benefit your business.

For example, if all comments, reviews etc. about your business are positive, it can look a little too good to be true. A website or Facebook fan page with mixed reviews demonstrates that you value the feedback of your customers and that you are happy to be transparent about how you work.

One of the significant benefits of negative reviews is that it is a forum to publicly respond to criticism and demonstrate an excellent level of customer service. It can help alleviate concerns that potential customers may have and give them confidence that any issues they raise with you will be dealt with.

So, with hundreds of millions users on Facebook and Twitter alone, you need to ask yourself can you afford not to be listening?

Image credit Patrick Hoesly on Flickr