Online, You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

……aka The Karma Bus Is Coming To Get You

This year, my partner and I decided that we wanted to go somewhere different and do something different for Christmas/New Year, rather than just hang around home and swelter in the Perth summer heat.

So, off we went to the local travel agent, sat in line for an hour and finally got to sit down and speak to the nice young lady about booking a short overseas holiday for the post Christmas time when the Webfirm office is shut.

After an hour, we finally settled on 8 days in Bali and the bill came to just shy of $3000 for the 2 of us. Yes, we would also be sweltering in the even hotter Bali summer, but at least it would be foreign, exotic and something very different. Plus, it would be our first holiday overseas together, which we had been trying to organise for a few years now.

We were excited, but one thing slightly concerned me, and that was the information about the hotel the travel agent found for us. In the brochure and on their website it said 5 Star, but some of the descriptive text on the agent’s computer systems said 3 Star. Which was it, and had we made a good choice? Apple iPhone to rescue!

A short time later, I downloaded and installed the TripAdvisor application on my iPhone, which links to my favourite travel review website – – and went looking for reviews on this hotel. Much to my horror, when it showed up on the screen, it had 116 reviews listed (a lot) and the average rating across all these reviews was 3 stars out of 5… Not a good start I thought. So then I started reading the reviews and it just got worse by the minute:

Rats, mice droppings, no hot water, aged furniture and peeling paint, cockroaches … and the list just kept getting worse! In short, we’d booked a dud.

Luckily, I was able to rush back to the travel agent and stop our booking on this hotel going through. Then with a few hours research on Trip Advisor, we found a MUCH nicer (and cheaper) place to stay at, placed a booking online with them and averted what could have been a horrible travel experience.

So, for a business person with a website, I believe there are 2 key lessons you can take out of this:

  1. If you don’t treat your customers right, it will come back to haunt you as they post stories about their bad experiences with your business online for all and sundry to easily find with a quick Google search. Oh, and you better believe people DO conduct these sorts of searches before they make important buying decisions these days! Sites like Facebook, Twitter & even YouTube make this a very simple thing to do…
  2. You have NO control over this happening. It probably is already happening, and you just haven’t realised it yet.

At least you get the opportunity to decide if you want to pull up your socks in time to save your reputation. Otherwise, the negative comments online will definitely effect your sales in the long run, and I’m fairly certain you don’t want that.

By the way, I’m confident that the vast majority of our readers & clients take quality customer service seriously. This article was mostly designed to just give you some insight into how the Internet has changed the way we do business in the 21st Century.

For those of you wanting to better manage this process, your website is a POWERFUL tool to facilitate this. And, in using your site to do this, you can position yourself to actually gain MORE customers from the net than you are currently getting.

So, next issue, I’ll explain how this works and give you some tips for turning a potentially negative situation into something beneficial to your business.

Until then, enjoy this great Spring weather we’re finally getting!

Eran Malloch – Site Marketing, Webfirm

Image credit Victor1558 on Flickr