What’s the best way to make sure your customers never trash you on Yelp, Tripadvisor, and the rest of the review sites?
The answer’s simple, of course:
Never make a mistake.
Well, good luck with that one. I’d say the more realistic way to fend off being torched online is more like the following:
Pay attention–close attention.
Be there when the customer needs you.
Be there when the customer first starts to feel misunderstood–before things get out of hand and onto the social media airwaves
Best way to deal with nasty social media feedback? Eliminate the need for it.
One of the first secrets in dealing with social media feedback, in other words, is to reduce the need for it by making sure your customers know, as directly as possible, how to reach you.
A customer needs to be able to tell you to your face (or on the phone, or to your direct email inbox) how they’re feeling. And they need to be able to find your face/phone/direct email address so they’re able to do said telling to). And they need to be able to see that you care, are listening, will consider their opinion. Make sure this happens, and they’re not–by and large–going to take it to Yelp. Or Tripadvisor. Or if they do, they’ll do it in a more moderated, considered way than they would otherwise.
The approach that works — for surgeons and for food truckers
This, of course, is a general rule. No money back guarantee in this one.But it does, by and large work — whether you’re a surgeon or operate a food truck. Sure, doing the surgery right is (if clear heads were to prevail) much important, yet studies show that malpractice charges can be more reliably tracked back to doctors who are schmucks than to doctors who suck.
The parable of the unzipped fly
All of this is what I’ve rather colorfully termed “the parable of the unzipped fly:”
Think about it this way:
If your friend saw you had your fly undone, or spinach between your front teeth, would he tweet about it?
Of course not. He’d quietly tell you. (And if nobody tells you all day when you’re fly’s unzipped, it’s proof positive that you have no friends!)
Use the same principle to your advantage here. Why should customers address issues to you indirectly via Twitter or their blogs when they can use email, the phone, or a feedback form on your website and know that it will be answered—immediately?
With their round-the-clock access to the ‘‘airwaves,’’ make sure that the first impulse of customers is to reach you—day or night. Have ‘‘chime in’’ forms everywhere; it’s like building escape valves for steam into your machinery.