Are you listening?
You need to be.
So apart from having an excuse to have a picture of Dolores O’Riordan on my blog why am I asking if you’re listening?
Have you ever heard of ‘Word-of-mouth’ marketing? Of course you have. It’s where a customer tells a friend, colleague or family member about a great experience they’ve had with a shop or service provider. Likewise the reverse is often true. We’ve all told horror stories of how a certain company or business let us down once and how we’ll never use them again.
Word-of-mouth marketing is an essential and almost free weapon in your better business toolkit. It’s really important that we get the word out about our services or products to as many people as possible and one of the online tools at your disposal is your blog or website.
Most CMS and blog packages have a comment feature as part of the basic package. And unfortunately most small business owners turn comments off. Now I can hear you all shouting at the screen now, ‘What if some lunatic with an axe to grind puts negative and false stories about my business on my website?’. Well I hear you loud and clear, but turning off comments is a bit like using a pneumatic drill to crack a crisp.
The problem with not allowing comments is that you’re also not allowing positive, glowing tributes about your business. Any half-decent CMS or blog will allow you to moderate comments and deleting blatant lies and falsehoods is one way of dealing with inappropriate or libellous content. However a much more clever way to deal with negative comments is to respond.
Newspapers (and at the moment they’re doing a lot of responding) always offer a right-to-reply. So if someone has posted a negative comment on your website how should you react. This is your opportunity to show your readers that you take an interest in your business reputation and customer satisfaction is very important to you. So here’s what to do.
- Don’t take it personally. Read and re-read the comments and truthfully think about what has been written. Is there any basis in truth as to what has been said?
- Consider your response. If the comments are totally un-justified then say so in a polite way but back up your response with evidence. If something has gone wrong at your end then say so. Apologise and ask the customer to email you so you can attempt to rectify the situation.
- Tell the world. When everything is cleared up ask the customer to say so on the comments form and you follow-up with a killer closing sentence. “Sorry I didn’t hit the bullseye first time round but I’m really glad WE managed to sort this out and I’m glad to have you as a customer.”
I know it sounds a bit cheesy but by showing your readers that you’re human, and you care, a negative issue can be turned into a positive one. I’ve had countless situations where I feel I’ve been let down as a customer but the way the business handled my complaint has made it easy for me to tell friends and colleagues how great the business after-sales care was.
To sum up. Word-of-mouth is virtually free so make it easy – COMMENTS ON.