Time and time again, the world wide web has found a way to change whatever proverbial game it is given. For instance, it brought the world closer together than ever before possible. People on opposite ends of the globe can talk without interruption over live video whereas a hundred years ago they would have to wait months between hearing from the other. This kind of drastic change is applicable to more than just interpersonal connection, however. Think about commerce in general. Nowadays, anything and everything you could ever desire can be purchased online – because of this the game of commerce will never be the same. Companies have shifted lanes entirely as a result of the internet’s expansion. Be it the way they sell to their customers or how they form new relationships, the internet has given companies a wealth of opportunities.
But there is a flip side to this. The internet has given potential consumers a wealth of opportunities as well. If there is just one thing the internet specializes in it is public information. Across the web, there are pages and pages of information about every topic under the sun – including what it is like to do business with your company. Just like restaurant reviews, your company can now be scored on how customers feel treated by you. Subsequently, other people online can see all of this. Author and businessman David Brier described why this can be such a dangerous game, “If you don’t give the market the story to talk about, they’ll define your brand’s story for you.”
Navigating company reviews will test you and your company to be sure. To encourage you in this endeavour consider the following tips for how you can give and receive feedback better in this capacity.
It starts with proactivity
Sitting around on your hands and hoping the received feedback sorts itself out is nothing more than a pipe dream. Like it or not, you and your team must rise to the occasion on a daily basis to meet consumer feedback head-on. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, a lack of attention given here will yield you more office work than you can ever imagine whenever you decide to take care of it. But secondly, and far more importantly, failing to understand all this feedback will leave you with no earthly idea how consumers feel about your company. Seeing as they are literally the party responsible for financially supporting your business, it seems ignorant to gloss over this.
“Some companies, like Apple, have the luxury of throwing things at the wall and having them stick every time,” said Omid Semino, CEO and Founder of Diamond Mansion. “Their customer base is so dedicated they can do anything. But they didn’t reach that point by doing this. They built their company around what people wanted and asked lots of questions to get there.”
You would be hard-pressed to find an entrepreneur who did not want their company to end up in a position similar to where Apple is today. The wealth that comes with a company like this is appealing enough. But as stated, this does not occur on a whim. Time and again, you will have to invest your time in reading, listening, and observing. and responding to your consumers and their thoughts.
“Too many people think of their company as this entity that tells people what they want and so they spend enormous amounts of money on advertising,” said Benjamin Earley, CEO of HOLT. “But the most successful companies are the ones who morph into what they want. This can’t happen unless you pay attention to them.”
Understand where feedback is coming from
There are no two ways about it; the internet is an immense place. Some might say it is truly endless. Regardless, what is important to realise in all this is that reviews pertaining to your company could appear anywhere online. Traditional social media will always be a massive contributing factor to this trend. So too will search engines. But within each of these admittedly massive digital items are their own unique avenues which could lead to feedback. You might be familiar with Facebook or Google. These are prime examples of such avenues and you must be aware of all of them.
“I’ve seen companies go years without realizing that there was an online community dedicated to their products and fans,” said Lionel Mora, CEO of Neoplants. “That’s a huge opportunity lost for genuine customer feedback.”
That being said, there are so many individual platforms and yet you need to cover all your bases. How can this become a reality for your company? Well, a quick observation of your peers might do the trick. Many companies have reached a point where they have found it helpful to bring in a team of specialists to help them manage this aspect of their company. For any number of internal and external reasons, this might make a lot of sense for your company.
“Being digitally literate in a world that is always evolving is challenging, to say the least,” said Jayme Muller, Brand Manager at RTA Outdoor Living. “Especially when it comes to handling business reviews because there’s so much going on behind the scenes. Which is why I think a trained reputation management company or consultant might be appropriate.”
Make negative reviews your top priority
You might have caught yourself in a thought process similar to the following, “Well, unfortunately, some people have had some not-so-great things to say about my company online.” This is an understandable mental place to arrive in when you come face-to-face with an unhappy customer. But, only one portion of this hypothetical process is true; people said some not-so-great things online. Nothing about this is unfortunate. That is assuming you take the advice from earlier about being proactive. Why is this the case? Because negative feedback can be your launch pad to new heights.
“Each one of us wants to be told we’re doing well or, by extension, our company is doing well,” said Andrew Chen, Chief Product Officer at Videeo.live. “But that doesn’t point out any weaknesses your company has. Trust me. They’re there. When outsiders point these out, give them your utmost attention.”
Another way of saying this is – no company excels in every aspect of business operations. Some companies struggle with product innovations and others have difficulties connecting with their intended audience. While neither of these examples may apply to your company, there is most certainly a point of weakness just waiting to rear its ugly head. It would be best to find out what it is by prioritising negative reviews.
“The negative reviews can sometimes be a little over the top in nature but there is generally an element of truth behind them,” said Michael Fischer, Founder of Elite HRT. “Take the time to go over these and respond to them both appropriately. Make this a practice moving forward as well. Future you will thank yourself for doing this.”
Your company needs to be easily accessible
If it has been said once, it has been said a hundred times; the internet is big. Very big. For the consumer looking to give honest feedback to your company, this can pose a problem. What happens if they never find the right space to let you hear from them? Their feedback is lost to the wind and really, it never did anything for you. Realistically speaking, that will not be the last consumer to give up on reaching out to you and in the long run, that is a problem.
“The average person is probably as effective with their internet use as a modern teenager is with a paper map as they’ll get lost before they are even aware of it,” said Ian Heyman, founder of Male Drip Protection. “If you want to hear from the people, make it obvious where they can reach out to you.”
Years ago, you needed to have a conversation with someone who represented the company to give your feedback. Nowadays, you might be lucky to be given a 500-word space to express yourself. This alone calls for different methods for giving and receiving feedback. So do the unique characteristics of people.
“Each one of us prefers different mediums for communication. I can’t tell you why, but people are wired like that,” said Ryan Azimi, director of international development at ETIAS. “If your company wants to hear back from all types of people then give them options for contacting you.”
Reach out to your consumers
Technology has become a necessary asset in both personal and corporate lives. That much is certain on numerous levels But it has also become somewhat of a problem in more ways than one. To get specific here, people, generally speaking, have been made to feel like their business, and even their presence online is nothing more than a number. They show up, spend their money, get their item, and end the story. This is no way to let your business operate.
“People usually have some kind of feedback to give but they’re shy about voicing it or simply forget,” said Sam Sarullo, CMO of Daniel’s Jewelers. “You can coax it out of them if you contact them directly.”
This is not to say you should show up at a customer’s door ready to have an in-depth discussion about the ins and outs of their experience with your company. But you can entice them through a small reward.
“Giving people a discount code in return for their honest thoughts on your business is a great way to kill two birds with one stone, ” said Temoer Terry, Partner at The Mommy Care Kit. “You learn about where you need to be improving and you make a positive addition to your bottom line.”
If anything is apparent at this point, it should be that giving and receiving feedback is a never-ending process. While that is true, financial mogul Warren Buffet pointed out an additional detail, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Robert Haynes, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.