How many times have you ever said the following words: “Oh, don’t take it personally”? Most times when people hear those words, they take it personally!
For many business leaders, learning how to parse customer interactions in order to determine when to take something “personally” is both an art and a science. By embracing corporate identity that equips you to gain affinity with your target audience, you are also pledging to engage with your customers at a personal level that takes into account their needs and wants, while maintaining good stewardship of profitability. It is through this approach to customer engagement that many brands, big and small, are able to garner a loyal following.
There is no denying that every aspect of the customer experience, from planning to execution, should be conducted with the customer in mind. Having said this, there are stages of the relationship that demand particular focus, given how influential they are in the shaping of a business. Customer feedback is perhaps the most sensitive of transactions, demanding a great deal of discernment and savvy leadership. Let’s take a look at the ways in which taking customer reviews personally can either help you get your business to the next level or negatively impact your operation.
Take Good and Bad Feedback Seriously
There is a delicate balance between having sensitivity and responsiveness to issues and becoming vulnerable or defensive. Smart businesses have leaders who are willing to go the extra mile to care for every customer at a personal level.
Taking feedback seriously begins by embracing the value of your customers’ opinions. Every single review has significant potential for amplification, and how you handle it will determine whether it will catapult your business to the next level, or it will mar how future customers perceive you for years to come. Taking review management, monitoring, and engagement personally is the epitome of customer-oriented, sustainable online marketing.
Pay Special Attention to Long Reviews
When people make personal investments of their time by providing your business with unique insights that would not otherwise be available, they are deserving of equal reciprocity. Take time to carefully read and evaluate their feedback, and provide solutions, responses, apologies, and remedy as needed. Also, be sure to express gratitude and seek ongoing engagement in the case of a positive review, where the customer has graciously provided an expanded perspective of your offering to anyone that might read the review in the future.
As a peer to other consumers, their personal insights are priceless and present great potential when it comes to adding dimension and credibility to your business. Long reviews, regardless of the tone, convey that people care enough to take time out of their busy schedules to give you tidbits of info that will allow you to improve your processes, or to compliment you with such richness of detail that it would be borderline negligent not to reciprocate in kind.
Fix Single Instances, but Above All Learn to See Trends
Corporations don’t have ears or eyes, but leaders do. Take the time to personally evaluate reviews across the most popular review sites, and be ready to tackle issues with a sense of urgency, with the idea that expediency conveys care at a personal level. Once issues are tackled and there is a sense of moving in the right direction in terms of the customer feeling like you care enough, and your team knows that there was a service or product issue that resulted in dissatisfaction, it is time to take a look at the big picture.
Leaders that care are constantly on the lookout for trends, both positive and negative, and take a personal interest in understanding what triggers the trend, maximizing opportunities when present and correcting issues ASAP. Getting a bunch of negative reviews in a row? Let us show you how to manage a spike of negativity and maintain business focus.
Be an Early Listener: Set Processes to Fix Things Before They Go Online
One of the key characteristics of great business leaders is the ability to proactively identify pain points, and grab the bull by the horns by taking an early-intervention approach that reduces the number of customer issues making it into review sites. To get to know what is affecting your customers before it becomes an online rant, you have to foster a culture that cares at a personal level. Engage with your customers on location, and ask for on-the-spot feedback. Questions such as “Was everything okay with your meal?” and “Is there anything else we can do for you?” provide an opportunity for customers to seek early resolution to experiential shortcomings.
In addition to face-to-face assessments, consider having an internal survey that gives the customer the opportunity to voice his or her opinion, thus reducing the need to go to an online review site. Many point-of-sale systems offer free survey applications that can help you improve the feedback loop and equip you to directly address a customer concern before it becomes a blemish on your online reputation. In fact, several studies have demonstrated that negative reviews often arise from the inability of a business to provide on-the-spot resolution to a customer concern when escalated to a team member or manager.
If You Dropped the Ball, Fix the Problem and Let Go
We all make mistakes, but when you do, it is bad for you and bad for business to beat yourself up over it. Through proactive monitoring of your reputation, you should be able to address customer concerns expediently to minimize the long-term impact to business. Review and reputation management empowers you to take care of business quickly, pick up the ball, and run with it. Don’t pollute the work environment with negativity by dwelling on negative feedback. This is an unhealthy approach to taking feedback personally, and it will not help you build your brand.
If You Receive an Irrelevant Review, Take a Deep Breath and Move On
Whichever way you put it, unfair is unfair. Receiving an irrelevant, negative review as a result of caprice or malice on the part of the reviewer can affect you personally, and it can affect your work environment and your current customers. Don’t allow for an irrelevant review to anger you to such a point that you are unable to service your current customers by giving them your best. Bad things will happen, and it takes a great leader to take a deep breath and move on.
If the Circumstances Are Outside Your Control, Don’t Dwell on It
Oftentimes, we mistake leadership as full control over the circumstances that set the stage for the success of our business. The reality is radically different. A great leader is one that can identify circumstances out of his or her control, and is able to guide the team through the turmoil in a way that benefits the customer as well as the business organization. Don’t dwell on customer feedback rooted in circumstances out of your control or the control of your team. If you have al fresco dining and receive negative feedback from a customer who experienced a rainy day, then taking the matter personally is borderline foolish. It is up to you to make sure alternate accommodations are made, and completely up to nature to allow the sun to come out.
Manage for Future Performance If the Past Comes Back to Haunt You
If you’ve just begun managing your reputation, then you might be shocked by the content, tone, and rating of many reviews from years past. Stressing over old feedback is unhealthy and is not conducive to growth or profitability. Read the review, learn from it, use the insights to create best practices, and invest your energy and resources in the here and now.
We encourage you to take your review and reputation management personally when such approach stands to take you and your organization to a better place. On the other hand, if you cannot make a sound business case in taking something personally, then remind yourself that reputation management is about being a visionary and working toward the next great thing.