You should never start an article with a phrase that will rile, irritate or annoy the majority of your readers, so I must apologize to anyone who is reading this that operates a shop or online business where any form of customer interaction is required.
“The customer is always right”.
For anyone in any customer facing role, those are five words that are guaranteed to make the blood boil as sometimes dealing with awkward customers can take a great deal of patience and a few deep breaths. So I apologize if I have offended anyone and please keep reading.
Despite the sometimes irrational nature of a minority of customers, it is becoming increasingly important to keep them sweet as Google is starting to listen to what they have to say. With a myriad of ways existing to game the Google ranking system, they are starting to pay more attention to what customers have to say about the quality of products and services offered by a particular company, and as the Décor My Eyes fiasco proved, they are prepared to use them when mulling over the rankings.
Of course, you should aim to keep customers happy for more than your rankings, but when Google are ear wigging on the thoughts of your best and worst customers then getting them to publish what they think is a necessary, if risky task.
So where do you start when it comes to harvesting your customer comments? Here are a few pointers to get you going.
How Do I Get People to Comment?
Presuming you provide a good service to your customers, get them to shout about it! Customer comments pages can provide an important way for people who are thinking of using you to seek assurance before they buy, so it’s not all about keeping the big G happy.
You can choose to host comments on your website and this is a good way of parading your happy customers for all to see. It is relatively easy to do this and you can use a Word Press plug-in much like you would do for your blog to achieve this.
External customer comments sites are also becoming important as both a ranking factor and as a vote of confidence to anyone with an Adwords campaign on the go. If you have noticed the star ratings underneath some AdWords listings then these have come from the feedback given on sites such as Reviewcentre which is then fed into your Adwords account. These can provide an important stamp of authority in the rankings and will encourage customers to click on your link over your competitors.
Why Would People Want to Comment?
It is a perfectly legitimate tactic to encourage people to leave a comment by offering incentives such as discounts on future orders, as long as you offer them to everyone. Picking and choosing who you ask for a review is a big no-no and is even illegal in some countries, so if you’re going to offer the chance to comment then you’re going to have to offer it to everyone.
This can be an effective tactic for getting a lot of reviews quickly but you are also leaving the reputation of your company in the hands of your customers and for some people, no matter how much you do for them it will never be enough.
Then there is the dreaded “Simon Cowell effect” to contend with. Since the dawn of his reality TV shows, everyone is entitled to an opinion and the meaner the better. Offer people the chance to have their say and it may well go to their heads, so you will need to monitor your comments page to make sure people aren’t letting their opinions go to their head.
Take Positives from the Negatives
You could run the best business in the world, with no quality control issues and a customer services team to dream of and someone will still complain. It is an inevitability of running a customer comments page that negative comments will occur and when they do it is important to take action.
What started out as a complaint could turn into a golden PR opportunity, so if possible try and contact the individual who complained and offer to rectify the situation for them. Go out of your way to solve the situation and you may well persuade them to change their complaint. If they simply will not be satisfied with anything you offer them, most review sites will have a section where you can leave a reply, so simply outline all of the effort you have gone to in attempting to rectify it and let the public judge whether it is you offering bad service or the customer being unreasonable.
This will also paint you in a positive light as you are demonstrating how you will go out of your way for customers, so it is perfectly possible to turn a negative into a positive.
The world of customer comments is littered with potential pitfalls but it is becoming increasingly important both in terms of ranking and customer satisfaction. But for those companies who enter into it in the right spirit, it can offer a golden opportunity to demonstrate your superior customer services abilities.