By James Rothaar
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Marketing online for a small business can present some big challenges for companies. Many organizations, both large and small, are trying to determine how to use the Internet and social media most effectively to increase sales and market share for their companies. With the Internet and social media already having transcended from trend to mega trend to permanent-fixture status around the world, it is virtually impossible for any business model to function at its highest level of effectiveness without knowing how utilize it.
Along with marketing online, a company these days also has to maintain and manage its reputation on the Internet, as many consumers turn to it to research products and service providers as part of their pre-buy decision-making process. As a businessman, that is why it is important to ensure that online reviews and ratings are obtained from customers. However, what it is even more significant is that these ratings and reviews are monitored meticulously.
Third-party websites that contain reviews of companies written by customers, such as Yelp, Service Magic, Angie’s List, and HomeAdvisor, play a significant role in determining how today’s marketplace views a business.
According to the 2011 Social Media Report by Nielsen, a globally renowned market research firm, 60% of all social-media users write reviews of products and brands that they buy. The study also revealed that the reviews by consumers are preferred over the reviews by industry professionals, such as reporters and industry insiders.
Additionally, search engines do defer to ratings of companies to determine how much attention to give them on the Internet.
These third-party review sites are an excellent way for well-ran businesses to be unearthed. Companies that deliver great customer service are receiving well-deserved publicity for their exemplary efforts. The sites also give a business important customer feedback with their complaints as well. These portals are where companies’ online reputations are built one customer review at a time.
Here are a few tips on how to optimize a business could manage its online reputation.
Ask Customers for a Review Once… and Only Once
While online reviews are important, a company should only ask for the review once. If a customer feels that he is being pressured into giving a review, it may turn out not to be a favorable one. To improve the chances of receiving the review, give customers a handout that thanks them for doing business with you and requests them to rate their experience with your company.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive to Reviews
Every review may not be positive. So, when a review from a less-than-satisfied patron occurs, it is important to respond to them in a professional manner. Go the extra step and contact the dissatisfied customer directly before responding to their issue on the review board. A little personal attention could go a long way in smoothing out a situation before it escalates to being an unsolvable problem. This leads us to the next point.
Turn a Bad Review Into a Marketing Opportunity
No business is perfect and something could go wrong for myriad reasons. If handled correctly, this type of situation could have a very positive end result. If a customer can be made happy after being disappointed and then goes on to write about it, it lets other people (prospects) read about how a company resolves issues. What began as a negative situation could be turned into a positive outcome by providing exemplary customer service. Additionally, if satisfied customers read a negative review and feel that it is uncharacteristic, those customers may defend the business by posting a positive review of their experience.
Never Argue Online with a Customer
Never ever do this. Read that previous four-word sentence out loud thrice before continuing. Regardless of what a customer says, arguing with a dissatisfied customer on a review site is bad for business. Falling down that rabbit hole could do irreparable damage to a business’ reputation both online and offline. Always contact an angry customer directly before responding to their complaint on the review site.
Never Directly Do “Customer Service” Where You Were Rated
While it is important to always provide excellent customer service, it truly is best to initiate such efforts with the customer instead of discussing their “problems” online. Predicting how a customer will respond online … where the entire world can read it … is a risky proposition. It is not a chance worth taking. Why risk it?
Make it Easy as A-B-C-D!
When interacting with customers online on third-party review sites, there are four rules to keep in mind that could go a long way in building a successful online reputation for a company. Arguing, belittling, criticizing, or debating with an angry or dissatisfied customer should never occur. While customers may not always behave well, it is crucial that the business does. There are no exceptions.
You may wish to read that previous sentence out loud thrice too. It may not be easy, but it is one of those times when doing nothing will be the right course of action.
Stay tuned for more relevant content on creating world-class digital marketing strategies and B2B telemarketing sales strategies. We at SalesFish Brand Marketing & Sales thank you for joining us in our commitment to unwavering strategic planning, B2B brand marketing and B2B sales execution.
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