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How to turn your negative customer feedback into customer loyalty.

Social Media Monday: How to Convert Social Media Negativity into Customer Loyalty

How to turn your negative customer feedback into customer loyalty. Eventually, almost every business or company will find a negative review or a post from a disgruntled customer in social media. Whether a retweet takes on a life of its own, or somebody leaves bitter post on your own Facebook page, it feels like a personal attack on your small business. For this blog in our Social Media Monday series, PowerSites is giving you the steps to help you convert any social media negativity into customer lotalty.

Monitor your brand

Negative comments can appear anywhere, not just on your Facebook page, Yelp page, or in a Tweet. Monitor the internet for any negativity so you can take action as soon as it appears. If you’re too busy to do the monitoring yourself, designate someone reliable. This is too important to ignore.

Post a reply

If you do see a post or comment on any of your social media pages, resist the temptation to ignore the post. Statements and opinions posted on the internet have the potential to be magnified and spread quickly, and the impact of a negative post that goes un-addressed can be substantial. People expect to see a response from the business owner, so if there isn’t one, it makes it seem as though the negative comment is the whole truth.

You may need to take a deep breath before you write it, but always reply to a negative post as quickly as you can. If the poster has a valid gripe, apologize and offer to make it right. If the post is just bizarre, make sure that customers hear your side of the story by creating a careful and factual reply. Don’t rush through writing your initial response. You want a well thought out response and you need to make sure it addresses all the points in the original message.

Watch for the poster’s response to your reply

If the negativity resulted from a legitimate problem, your sincere apology and offered fix may be enough to turn the poster into a happy customer. The internet is full of messages from once-angry people who amended the original post when the business resolved the issue. If you’re lucky, your poster will be one of these people. Now, when people come across the negativity, they also see your response and the poster’s amended comments. They realize that your business cares about its customer satisfaction, and that helps them to trust your products and business.

However, not everybody is so lucky, at least, not every time. If the poster responds negatively to your overture, repeat your reasoned response. Don’t get in to a flame war no matter how many unreasonable or outrageous comments the poster makes. Your responses must always be reasonable and professional.

In any case, it’s important that you make your side of the story available to potential customers. The most loyal customers may even make defensive comments or tweets of their own that highlight excellent service or superior products. By coming to your online defense, their original feelings of loyalty intensify, and they will become a more satisfied customer.

Remember, don’t let negative comments sour you on social media, because they are a terrific opportunity to enhance customer loyalty if you follow a few important steps.

3 Tips for Improving Customer Satisfaction

3 Tips for Improving Customer Satisfaction

3 Tips for Improving Customer SatisfactionJust about every small business wants to keep their customers happy and returning to them as often as possible, so tips for improving customer satisfaction are always important. This is more than just basic customer service: customer satisfaction entails the entire experience a customer has with your company and their final feeling at the end of the interaction they have with your business.

Below are three simple and great ways to ensure your customers

Listen to Feedback and Interaction

The best perspective on the customer experience as a whole comes from—you guessed it—the customers themselves. If you don’t ask the customers how their overall experience was then you will never really know how your company is doing on a regular basis. So the first thing that your company should do to improve overall customer satisfaction is to ask your customers for their opinion. While people usually hate filling out surveys or anything that will take up too much of their time, providing a forum—both online or in a physical store—will give customers an outlet to convey their feelings to you. If you don’t want to provide a survey, you can encourage engagement with your business page on consumer review sites, like Yelp.

The next step is to take all of this feedback into account and implement changes where you deem necessary. While some things customers say will be isolated incidents or not very helpful for you when trying improve their overall experience, a number of comments will be integral to your customer’s overall satisfaction on a more regular basis. If there are less-than-desirable reviews, you should take the proper steps in addressing the negative reviews.

Make Sure All Employees Know How to Treat Customers

While you may have an idea of how you would like to be treated as a customer, the employees who are interfacing with customers on a constant basis may not. Take the time to train your employees to treat customers the way they would like to be treated through some basic lectures or courses. Employees can be paid for this time or served lunch, so they don’t feel like they are being reprimanded in a group setting. In this training, employees should be encouraged to think about the big picture, especially in an age where customers have more reach than ever before. One bad review online can be relatively damaging to a business, so all customers should be treated as if they are the most important. If these meetings are executed right this will feel like a team building exercise as much as it feels like a way to improve the overall customer experience.

Go Above and Beyond

Look at what your competitors are doing in regards to customer service and try to make the customer service your company offers even better. Hire greeters to stand by doors and have employees ready to help any customer at the drop of a hat, showing them where a particular product is or try and answer any question they might have. This level of customer service should also translate to the online experience, with prompt responses to any questions a customer has about certain products or services, via phone or email. The better all of these components of customer service are in your business, the better the customer satisfaction will probably be.

Finding Success in the Midst of this Small Business Revival

Think your small business can’t compete in a retail landscape dominated by big-box stores?
Think again.

Wal-Mart, Target and other major players arena have been successful over the last thirty years largely because they saw a niche and filled it. They exist to provide reliable access to generic consumer goods at low prices. But not every customer is in the market for mere commodities, and the best customers are not those who are buying on price. In fact, with the dramatic increase in Internet commerce seen in recent years, and the rise of mobile computing, mom-and-pop shops who offer boutique goods and services have never been in a better position to harvest some of that discretionary cash consumers have been saving by purchasing their everyday needs at rock-bottom, big-box prices.

Small Business RevivalBy establishing a website and solid online presence, smaller shops can now literally serve customers around the world. Just as importantly, the Internet offers a way to retain loyal local customers who may have been forced to move away due to family obligations, job changes, or a countless number of other scenarios. For their part, customers have been quick to seize the opportunity. Internet sales now account for nearly 16 percent of all retail spending and continue to trend upward.

So, what are the keys to finding success in the midst of this online small business revival?

It All Begins with Great Products and Great Service

This much hasn’t changed. Online or in-person, customers want to find value and be treated well. Use your ability to deliver personalized service and higher-end, boutique goods as your unique selling point. Not only will you be delivering something the big-box stores simply can’t, but also be attracting high-quality customers who are motivated to buy.

Make Sure Your Website Looks Professional and Functions Smoothly

Your website is the Internet equivalent of your storefront, so make sure it impresses. Keep it updated with new, fresh, and relevant content. If you’re worried that you have no idea how to create, or where to even start with designing a website, there are services that will build your website for you, like PowerSites. Be sure to have photos of your storefront, staff, products offered, testimonials from customers and your business info. Use your website, as an outlet to tell your business’s story.

Think Customer Engagement

Building community is key in today’s online marketplace. Simply putting up a static website and waiting for the sales to come rushing in won’t cut it. Be sure to engage your customers through major social media services like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Also, consider hosting a blog on your website. Customers and search engines both love content marketing, so these practices will help get you found online.

Bulid an Email Marketing List

This is crucial. Your best customers will always be the ones who invite you to show-up in their their inbox. Offer a giveaway, special discount, or some other incentive to visitors who are willing to opt-in to your mailing list. Then follow-up by reaching out proactively to these highly-motivated buyers from time to time with insider news or special offers. It’s a great way to keep your loyal customers engaged, and the potential to turn first-time customers into returning customers.

For small business retailers, going online can be the great equalizer in the never-ending competition with the big-box stores. Yes, they can offer cut-rate pricing and a wide variety of generic consumer goods, but that’s probably not your niche anyway. After all, you have a high-value customer base to get out there and serve.

Reaching Your Customers Through Social Media

Reach your customers through social mediaEver find yourself wincing as a standup comedian’s tries to recover from a one-liner that fell flat? It’s painful to watch because you know that the comic can tap his microphone and ask “Is this thing on?” all he wants, but the crowd won’t laugh until he starts telling better jokes. It’s also a great reminder that if you want your social media marketing campaign to generate interest and brand loyalty instead of awkward silence, you need to be tightly focused on engaging your audience.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to do that: Always think about reaching your CUSTOMER.

C – Communicate, Connect, and Care

Social media is not a one-way broadcast medium. A television commercial or a magazine ad may be all about calling buyers to action, but social media is about having a conversation. It’s an amazing opportunity. Your business gets a chance to establish a real connection, show that it values its customers as people, and express a genuine desire to serve them. The key is to be responsive. When people comment or ask questions about your posts, take an interest and get back to them quickly.

U – Unlock

Followers and friends expect your social media presence to be real and unguarded. They want to get a sense of what goes on in your business. They also want to understand what other customers think of your brand. Social media is a wonderful space to enhance your level of social proof, but always keep it authentic. If a customer posts something critical, think twice before hitting the delete key. A whiff of censorship or a sign of whitewashing can ruin a great campaign.

T – Track Conversations

Think of social media as a market research wonderland. Listen to what customers are saying about your products, your reputation, and your management. Chart it out and look for trends. Not many years ago, getting this kind of input would have meant hiring a consultant and running endless focus groups. Today, it’s yours for free, as long as you’re willing to pay attention.

O – Open Eyes, Ears, and Mouths

If your business is large enough to have several departments, make sure your social media campaigns don’t get locked away in marketing. Everyone involed in the day-to-day operations of your business should see what followers are posting. Everyone should listen and consider customers’ input, and everyone should have the chance to lend their expertise as you formulate responses.

M – Measure

Social media may seem like a soft discipline, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to run a campaign without measuring its impact. Adopt a relevant set of metrics and track your return on investment. Conversely, use the metrics you gather in other facets of your business to tweak your social media campaign. Chances are you’ve learned a lot about your customers over the years. Put that information to work strengthening your online presence.

E – Excel

Never do anything half-heartedly in a social media channel. Use questions and complaints as a chance to provide superior customer service. When you put offers in front of your audience, make sure they’re amazing. Always do the right thing. If you impress your followers, you may see one of your posts go viral. Nothing else—absolutely nothing—can get your brand if front of new prospects more quickly than doing something that inspires their friends to “share” or “like” your post.

R – Reward the Community

No one has to follow you on your social media channels; they choose to do so. Make sure you treat them well. When thanks are in order, offer them proudly and publicly. When you have a terrific deal in the works, give your followers the first chance to take advantage of it. These kinds of actions build fierce loyalty and may turn your customers into your best advertisers.

The CUSTOMER acronym is a powerful way to keep your social media marketing campaign on track, so consider keeping a copy handy. Refer to it regularly and reap the rewards.