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If we go back to the basic principles that drive commercial interactions, we quickly identify supply and demand at the very heart of everything commerce.
Your business increases demand when your offering, whether it is product or service, perfectly meets the customers’ needs and wants. In short, the key to a successful business organization depends on its ability to deliver exactly what is promised when the customer wants it.
As More Loyal Customers author Kevin Stirtz puts it:
Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.
Level of customer service shapes brand reputation
Improvement of customer service therefore happens when your organization has processes in place to identify barriers before the customer is forced to escalate, or chooses to not engage with your business.
When your business is on top of things and you have chosen to be relational and proactive, not only will you see a reduction in negative online reviews, but you will also benefit from increased loyalty and improved brand reputation.
Several studies conducted in association with online and offline customer feedback point to the fact that negative feedback often originates when a customer escalates an issue and the business organization fails to provide immediate resolution or remedy.
This means that most customer interactions where there has been experiential friction come with at least one chance to redeem your brand reputation before the customer feels forced to provide candid feedback on a public forum such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google+, Yahoo Local, and others.
Most customers encounter loyalty-eroding problems when they engage with customer service. According to a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, the barriers in achieving resolution and remedy are generally high. Take a look at this sample:
56 percent report having to re-explain an issue.
57 percent report having to switch from the Web to the phone.
59 percent report expending moderate to high effort to resolve an issue.
59 percent report being transferred.
62 percent report having to repeatedly contact the company to resolve an issue.
Make online review management a priority
Successful business organizations that have made brand reputation and online review management a priority are often able to reduce the numbers above by establishing proactive customer relationship management (CRM) that touches on every transactional stage, making sure the business organization is empowered to deliver their marketing promises.
According to a study conducted by Customer Contact Council, a division of the Corporate Executive Board, loyalty is not rooted in delighting your customers. Reducing their effort – the work they must do to get their problem solved – is the real key to improved loyalty.
Thus, success happens when there is a reduction in transactional friction and there is improvement in the handling of escalations when problems do happen.
Know your customers
The more you know about your current and future customers, the better you can be at strategizing around the customers’ specific needs and wants.
From inception, your business will benefit from a concerted effort to capture and analyze transactional data that facilitates the creation of a detail-rich and accurate buyer persona. Managing the relationship from the very start allows your organization to take control of the full customer life cycle. Having ownership from reach to loyalty engagement gives your business a significant competitive advantage.
Your CRM strategy is only as good as the level of knowledge you have about your customers. Knowing more about your customers and using this knowledge to shape your offering will generally get you a higher score on Net Promoter Score surveys and cumulative scores on popular online review sites like TripAdvisor.
Culture of empowerment
At the very heart of a strong CRM strategy is a culture of empowerment that fixes things right the first time around.
If your business strives for its customer relationship management strategy to serve as the cornerstone for a strong brand reputation, then it is essential to invest in cultivating a culture that is focused on empowerment, immediacy, and responsiveness.
The stats captured by the Customer Contact Council reflect just that. In a world full of imperfection, most customers have the resiliency to deal with barriers, but not necessarily the tolerance or patience to forgive an escalation that is time-consuming and generally unresponsive.
That’s why your strategy must include clear procedures that aid in resolving customer escalations quickly and to the satisfaction of the customers, in order to ensure they are willing to give your business a second try.
Make an emotional connection
Cultivating a corporate culture that seeks to deliver empathy at all stages of the customer lifecycle may just turn out to be the best move ever when it comes to securing positive customer feedback.
Not only should team members, managers, and owners be empowered to fix issues, but also the delivery of any interaction taking place while the customer is agitated or frustrated should be done in such a way that the customer and brand representative are able to connect and find common ground. When a person finds emotional commonality with a business, he or she is more likely to remain loyal and to endorse the business through online reviews, as well as word of mouth within their social networks.
Only a very low percentage of customers escalate issues. The great majority just move on without ever giving a business organization a chance to make things right.
Implementing early-capture surveys to diagnose potential issues is essential to the long-term success of your business, as well as to the development of a strong reputation management.
One of the easiest ways to capture the sentiment of your customer base and tackle issues that may have gone undiscovered is to conduct and maintain a Net Promoter Score. By doing so, your business is able to identify and fix issues that may not have come to the surface otherwise, thus reducing customer churn rate.
Remember to follow up
The best of the best succeed at CRM because they are committed to owning the relationship. They go beyond fixing issues and provide follow-up to all escalations until they are certain that there is a level of customer satisfaction sufficient to prompt re-engagement.
If your business is without a customer relationship management strategy in place, then you need to make it a point to look into customer feedback tools that can help you get started. The technologies that support CRM and brand reputation management are more affordable than ever and the ROI is unprecedented.