When it comes to brand reputation management, businesses of all sizes have one shared goal: to always portray an image of quality and excellence. This goal can be achieved through a businesses own communication efforts, especially expressed through online reviews and other forms of customer feedback.
On an individual level, for those employees specifically tasked with brand management, there are numerous resources addressing best practices for review management and dealing with customer feedback. It usually starts with learning how to respond to both good and bad reviews, how to take internal corrective action, how to go about mending a relationship, and converting a potential detractor into an active promoter.
By now, everyone (who has some knowledge about brand reputation management) has some of these processes in place.
But what if there was a way to intervene during the customer experience life cycle that could stop a bad review before it happens?
Let’s take a look at 5 of the best business practices that can help anyone change customer sentiment mid-course, and save a business from the long-term repercussions of a negative review.
1. Use Existing Reviews
Chances are, you have some online reviews already published on third-party review websites like Yelp, OpenTable, and Google. Don’t underestimate the potential value of negative feedback. A negative online review, when used correctly, can actually have far more value than a positive review.
Negative feedback equips you to make changes to business processes, thus allowing you to touch on opportunities that you have not yet monetized. There is a finite number of ways in which a business may fail as it relates to customer experience. Because of this, fixing problems already voiced by prior customers will reduce or totally eliminate the possibility of getting a bad review from future customers.
If you don’t yet have them, then put processes in place to monitor your reviews, and track operational actions you have taken in response to feedback, in order to be able to understand if these actions have a direct correlation with improved performance.
2. Create an On-Location Escalation Path
Multiple studies point to businesses’ inability to fix issues on-location as the root cause for the majority of negative reviews posted on review websites. Text analysis conducted on all reviews less than three stars points to lack of knowledge or willingness on the part of on-location staff to provide on-site resolution as the point of friction in the customer experience. Empowerment is therefore the best preventative medicine when it comes to reducing the incidents of negative reviews.
Be diligent and strategic in putting processes in place to help your on-location staff.
Fix issues right away, either by rectification, remedy, or reimbursement of the transactional cost. No customer should ever leave your location with a bitter taste in his or her mouth. The most successful business organizations have standard operational procedures that clearly empower on-location employees to either fix an issue or to escalate it right away by making escalation points readily available. All organizations can achieve this by creating manager-on-duty programs that ensure that there is constant coverage in matters related to customer experience and customer satisfaction.
3. Train Your Team to Understand Body Language
When it comes to customer satisfaction, silence is dangerous. Don’t foster a culture where silence is interpreted as satisfaction. Seek out training for your on-location and management team members which focuses on understanding body language.
If a team member or member of leadership identifies body language that communicates discomfort or dissatisfaction when a customer is on location, then he or she should have the tools and procedures in place to approach the customer politely and inquire about his or her experience, with the final goal of fixing things before they escalate and become negative-review worthy.
4. Host Frequent Focus Groups
Your most loyal and frequent customers have a treasure trove of insights that can help you shape customer experiences that reduce the potential of negative reviews. One of the best business methodologies to gain knowledge of possible experiential defects is by simply asking those that know your brand the best. Creating focus groups with your best customers is not only good for business, but it also equips you to provide an additional perk and a sense of status to those who are invited to participate. Consider hiring an outside agency with experience in securing data that can be leveraged to improve your business quickly and effectively. Data-driven customer experience strategy is without a shadow of a doubt one of the best ways to identify problems that may result in negative reviews from new and loyal customers alike.
5. Launch a Post-Transactional Net Promoter Score Survey
One of the best ways to catch and address negative feedback when you have failed to tackle it on location is by having a Net Promoter Score survey sent to every single customer immediately after the transaction. Work on ensuring your client-management system has enough information in place to be able to distribute a survey immediately after a transaction, or in daily batches at the end of the day.
By obtaining information about the customer experience right after they have visited your location, you can play interference and protect your business unit from potentially damaging negative reviews. A Net Promoter Score survey is one of the most effective ways for a business to improve the customer experience cycle and secure meaningful information which allows those in leadership to paint a true and accurate picture of the customer sentiment in almost real time