Social Media has changed the face of customer feedback. For better or worse, we are living in a new age. The way we communicate with each other is so very important and it is safe to say that there are pros and cons for the high tech way we talk to each other today. Easier- YES, better- maybe.
Better technology has helped in many areas:
- It has made it easier to provide the kind of feedback that can help businesses get better.
- It has made it easier to sing the praises of a great business.
- It has made it easier to make purchasing decisions.
For all the positives, Social Media has also caused some challenges:
- It has made it easier to avoid confrontation.
- It has made it easier to stretch the truth.
- It has made it easier to hurt people.
The other day, there was a Facebook post that asked how I would regard a business who had lots of 5 star ratings but no actual 5 star feedback. It was also brought up that the restaurant had lots of 1 star ratings with details so it appeared as if the 5 stars had just been added in an attempt to get an unearned, better rating.
In the OLD days before Social Media, diners might have been caught off guard by either the service or the food. Since people took the time to post their reviews they made it easier for future guests of the restaurant to make a decision about eating there. Unfortunately, the 5 star posters did not give us any ‘meat’’ with their generic feedback so they might be guilty of padding the numbers- who knows! Strong ratings (any number) give specifics about why the service provided was AWESOME or TERRIBLE.
In the OLD days before Social Media, a dissatisfied diner might have addressed their concerns with the management of the restaurant and, if things were handled properly, adjustments would have been made and both the business and future guests would be the beneficiary of that feedback. Today, we sometimes RUSH to Social Media before giving business owners an opportunity to make corrections. We have almost forgotten how to provide civil feedback and in the absence of a face to face conversation, it can be much easier to dish out hefty criticism.
In the OLD days before Social Media, a community would have put a business out of business by not frequenting the establishment, if poor service or food was consistent. Today, a single social media post can be so damaging that it can cause catastrophic harm. We had a local business that lost customers because their name was associated with a person who had previously owned the restaurant. In a moment- a social media post cut their business dramatically. It wasn’t until the local residents realized that they had made the decision to stop doing business with the company based on false information, that they rallied (using social media) and helped to repair the damage the erroneous post had caused.
Social Media is a powerful tool that can be used to build up or tear down any business. It is pretty obvious that there is room for manipulation on both sides of the equation so what can you do to make sure your Social Media experience is as positive as possible?
- AWARENESS- make sure you know where your customers or potential customers are more apt to place feedback for you. Then monitor these tools. Being aware of what customers are saying can help you make any adjustments or continue do the things that they love!
- ASSISTANCE- Business owners cannot do everything in their business and many times, Social Media is ignored because the owner does not know how to use it. Be sure to get some expertise in this area. It is not necessary to use EVERY social media platform but it is important to identify the top 2 or 3 and then have a consistent presence.
- ACTION- Being aware of any feedback and having someone monitoring activity is how you know when to take action! There are many trains of thought on how to handle poor feedback so here are my two cents worth! Every social media post deserves a response AND you have to take great care in how you do that. Positive responses need a Thank You and possibly a little more depending upon the post itself. Negative posts are a little more tricky. It is critical to acknowledge the experience and NOT to get too defensive. No one is perfect so poor reviews are bound to happen- your response will tell future readers of the post a lot about you and your company.
If you ever find yourself in the same situation as the 1 star review restaurant, who combated their poor reviews by having many generic 5 star posts added, you might consider a different approach. If all of the single star reviews touched on similar feedback you have got to go to work and fix the challenge. Then, reply to the posts, offer a free dining experience and let your disgruntled customers know you appreciated their feedback, made some changes and would like an opportunity to earn a better review.
For the 5 star reviews (unless you know they were manufactured- delete them if they were) I would encourage you to reply and ask for specific feedback- “Thank you for your glorious review!! Would you mind adding some details so future visitors can know what to expect? “. You might also include a free dessert or a buy one/get one offer for them!
One quick note to customers- owning and operating a business is no piece of cake. The stresses of everyday business can sometimes affect how services are provided- no excuses allowed- but it is important to note that your feedback could be a big help and an even BIGGER help if you took the time to share the feedback personally BEFORE posting a negative review on Social Media. You may also want to consider that some poor feedback does not mean the business is horrible- everyone has a bad day. Take a risk and get your own impression- you might be pleasantly surprised!
The days of the ‘handshake’ mentality may be over but we can take care of each other in our high tech, social media climate by doing unto others (businesses and consumers) as we would have others do unto us.