With the advent of social media, advocacy and testimonials are more influential than ever before. We share some tips on managing customer feedback online.
Online reviews and testimonials don’t just give you useful feedback on your product or service, they help customers make the all-important decision to shop with you.
According to an international consumer review survey conducted earlier in 2012 by BrightLocal.com, 65 per cent of customers read between two and 10 online reviews before making a purchase decision, and 72 per cent of people trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
With this in mind, it makes sense to present testimonials or reviews on your business website if you have the functionality and to invite customers to send in reviews that can be added to your site.
Vet Products Direct general manager Dr Mike Woodrow says, “We recently reviewed our web strategy, with the aim of decreasing distraction and increasing trust. Posting customer testimonials, as well as reviews of products, is a great way to reassure customers and increase trust.”
The business has an active Facebook page, which is streamed to the main Vet Products Direct website.
Different members of the customer service team (all trained vet nurses themselves) post on Facebook and respond to comments.
“We have a set of procedures and guidelines on what to say and what not to say,” says brand manager Sarah Ellis. “However, we don’t have a lot of ‘pre-prepared’ answers. Because it’s social media, we want to keep it live and real; otherwise customers will sense it and disengage.”
Managed well, online customer feedback is also an opportunity to demonstrate your business’s customer service skills. “Vet Products Direct deals with around 10,000 customers a month and maybe a handful of those customers will have a negative experience that needs to be addressed,” says Dr Woodrow. “On the whole, we find that customers are very reasonable and patient if they know that you are trying to resolve a problem.”
Bigger companies may need to dedicate a person to managing online feedback, as part of their customer service team or social media team. “Our own social media tasks are not too time consuming, so we roster the social media responsibilities between our existing customer service team,” says Ellis. “That way, no single person has to do the whole job, and we get a good mix of personalities and voices coming through.”
The added advantage is that the customer service representative is using the same skills set and expertise, just across more platforms.
Small businesses probably won’t get as many online reviews so they may be able to simply keep an eye on them and handle feedback as it arises. If you don’t have the time or the temperament to handle online reviews and testimonials, you could also outsource this to a social media or brand-management agency.“If you have sound business practices and care about your customers,
there is no need to be afraid of online feedback and social media,” says
Five tips for responding to online feedback
- Be polite.
- Thank the customer for their feedback, whether good, neutral or negative.
- If you would like to post a customer’s review or testimonial on your site, check that you have permission to do so, either in the terms and conditions on your comments submission section or by asking the customer directly for approval.
- If there’s a problem with your product or service, apologise and address the concern properly. This could include offering a replacement or simply explaining how a product or service works.
- Don’t take feedback personally or lose your temper. This is an opportunity to show your commitment to customer service and potentially win over not only one disgruntled shopper but many potential customers reading the review and your responses.
Useful tools and resources
- Vet Products Direct is a mail-order company that posts pet products locally and internationally.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and the interviewees, and not of Australia Post.
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