By Robi Ganguly
Yelp. Zomato. ZocDoc. Glassdoor. Zillow. And of course, the App Store.
There’s no escaping online ratings and reviews in today’s consumer world. Whether we’re choosing a hotel or our next meal, we’ve come to not only trust, but relish reviews. For better or worse, they’ve utterly usurped our decision-making process. These anonymous, crowdsourced reviews mean big business (or lack thereof) for brands. Positive reviews taken to a public arena do your marketing for you. They’re a testament to your quality and increase trial and conversion rates. Negative reviews do just the opposite. They scare off potential and existing customers and may even point them to a competitor.
It’s no surprise, then, that brands want to encourage positive reviews and ward off negative reviews. Many go as far as engaging in black-hat tactics (such as fake reviews) to fight negative feedback.
What so many sellers are missing out on as a result is the inherent value of a customer complaint. Companies large and small can leverage negative feedback for positive results. First, we need to embrace a new mentality around how we interpret, respond, act on, and manage this negative feedback.
Interpreting and Responding to Negative Reviews or Feedback
As business owners, we try to discourage negative reviews and feedback and neglect to realize how rare customer feedback actually is. The reality is, we only ever hear from one out of every 27 unhappy customers. That 27th customer leaves you with a present—an indication of why they are leaving and likely why others have left as well.
In a world where one-to-one customer communication is only a text, email, push, or tweet away, the vast majority of complaints still go unanswered. There are many reasons we rationalize ignoring complaints: It’s a lost cause. It will go away if we just don’t pay any attention. Customers appreciate when companies take the time to address their issues, and will often let the public know it’s been resolved if they left their complaint on a public forum.
Be open and honest with customers who have negative feedback about your company, even if it’s in the public domain. Is a solution to their complaint on your roadmap? Tell them! Is their complaint something that won’t be addressed for a while? Let them know, and explain why.
Acting on the Negative Review or Feedback
Sometimes you’re able to respond directly to complaints and win back customers, as is the case with social networks and select review platforms including Google Play and Yelp. Other times, as with the App Store, communication is a one-way street.
Fortunately, actions speak louder than words.
Feedback, especially critiques, provide invaluable insights into the wants and needs of your customers. Use this feedback to shape your offering and meet customer demand. If a customer complains about a lack in your offering, seriously consider whether adding that product or service makes sense for the majority of your customers, but avoid changing your product roadmap for something that would benefit too few customers.
Managing How Negative Reviews and Feedback Get to You
Last but not least, own your customer communication.
A one-star review provides insights into your customer’s needs. What’s even better is that same feedback in a private, controlled environment. Online ratings and reviews are often the only channel customers have to communicate with a brand. They give a voice to your customers, but it’s a voice that is broadcast far and wide for all of your prospects, customers, and competitors to see.
Establish a proactive customer engagement model to solicit feedback before it makes its way to a public forum. Setting up an email dedicated to customer support is a good place to start. Include team members who are able to address most customer issues. Setting up an online portal and listing a phone number on your website for comments and concerns is also an option for controlled communication. In-app portals for feedback and support can be a useful solution for app-based companies.
Customer feedback provides you with the data you need to win back customers, increase lifetime value, and improve your product or service. So, next time you see that inevitable one-star review, just say thank you.
To read the full article, click here.
Robi Ganguly is the CEO of Apptentive, the easiest way for companies with a mobile app to listen to, engage, and retain their customers.
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