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Don Schindler

Executive Reputation Coach & Digital Marketer

Category: search engine (page 2 of 2)

Power to the Consumer – dealing with Social Media and Public Complaints

So they got you…one of your customers had a bad experience and now they are online telling the world about it.

In fact, they are so upset that they started a website or blog up and are actively denouncing your company. You went out and did a Google search and they are popping up on the same page as your website.

There’s your company and then right below it, bam. It’s that customer…the one that is really, really mad.

Well, how do you fix it so this guy isn’t second on the list behind your good name?

Unfortunately, most of the business people I talk to think that the customer is in the wrong. That it isn’t their fault and that they did the right thing. But it isn’t really about right or wrong when it comes to the damage a customer can cause to your online presence.

It’s about turning that customer into someone who loves you no matter the initial cost.

That’s crazy talk. No, not for a small business or even a large one.

I believe all you have is customer service. Today almost anyone can do what you do for your customers. The biggest difference between you and your competitors is how you treat them before, during and after they do business with you.

Everyone knows it’s 5x, 7x, 10x more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an old one.

And you believe that then you’ll do what it is to keep that customer happy no matter how insane you may think they are. But believe me, they aren’t insane in their own head. Make it right.

I’ll give you two examples that happened to me this weekend. One was at a sushi restaurant. I won’t mention the name because I didn’t feel that slighted but my wife sure did.

We had never been there before and had a coupon from a mailer. We walk in and there was no hostess. We waited and waited and waited. At least three or four minutes.

A large crowd of five or six came in behind us. They passed us, went to the bar. The hostess then came out from around the bar, greeted those people then came up to the hostess stand, grabbed some menus, gave us an apologizing look and said, “I’ll be right with you.”

She sat those people and then came back to us.

She greeted us. My wife said, “Did you know those people? Do they own the restaurant?”

The young girl said no. My wife said, “We were here before them. Why did they get seated before us?”

She didn’t have an answer. My wife likes things to be fair. This tainted the entire experience. We left and the people behind us who had just walked in left as well. So the very young hostess (who is your first impression for a new restaurant) just cost the owner $100 from us and probably $200 from the four top behind us.

Plus we’ll never go back. You only get one chance with my wife.

The next place we went to was brand new. A burger place with brew. I was excited. We walked in to a mop bucket unattended next to the front door. Yeah, we didn’t even look at the menu.

Two small businesses. Lost revenue. And we’ll never go back. And my wife who is at WOM machine will be very happy to pass her complaints along any time anyone mentions those two new restaurants.

So the fact that you have a customer that is unhappy and willing to talk about it online is both a very good thing and a very dangerous thing. Good because at least they are talking in an environment where you could deal with it. Like those restaurants will probably never know that my wife is hurting their business.

But onine is more dangerous than you can imagine because there are plenty places to talk (social media) outside of your site – especially if your site doesn’t even allow for that type of interaction. You know because you don’t want people talking bad about you on your site.

Here’s what one of our creative directors said about people talking negatively on your company’s site. Leigh Marino (awesome smart creative) likened those upset customers to her new puppy. This puppy liked to dig. Every time they were outside in the yard, the puppy tore up her flowers and her garden. After a couple of times at this, Leigh decided to make a space in the yard for the puppy to go to town on. A spot to rip her yard to shreds. Now the puppy was happy because he was going to rip something to shreds anyway and Leigh was happy because it wasn’t her flowers.

The idea behind this is that you are not going to make every customer completely happy. But when they do have a complaint, let them come to you and tell you about it. Let it be on your website for others to see. Then do what you can to contact this customer and make them happy. When you finally do, they will retract or if they don’t, you can let others see how you responded to the complaint and how you made amends.

But if you don’t do anything and you let that person have a voice out there on the internet without any response, the damage can be desvastating to a business.

Consumers are starting to understand this more and more. They know that their opinion of you counts more than just who they can reach in their small network of face to face friends. They can reach every single one of your customers searching for you on the net if they are smart enough about it.

Here’s some places they can do it.

If it were me, I would start a free blog on blogger or wordpress to talk about what happened. I would use a URL that had their name in it. I would use the company’s name over and over to make sure the keywords were there. I would link my blog to all the sites above and anything else I could find. I would contact the local media and pitch my story to them. This stuff would probably take me a week but I’ll bet you I’d be showing up really close to their direct searches in Google. Heck, I might even buy a few adwords to make sure I did.

Sending me a cease and desist or taking me to court would be the wrong thing to do here. That would cause me to flame even louder on the net. Then my fellow bloggers would get wind of “the man” coming down on someone who is just trying to right a wrong. Then it would spread like wild fire.

Hopefully, you are seeing my point about how effective this type of consumer complaint can be and how you should be prepared to deal with it. I’m going to say it again. Make it right. And make sure everyone they talked to knows you made it right.

Next time, I’m going to write about how you can get that consumer complaint website off certain search results for your company. It takes some time and some effort but you can do it.

Clutter on the Web and my Desk – Siteless Web Presence

My desk is a mess.

Once, in first grade, my teacher – can’t remember the nun’s name – put my entire desk in a box and sent me along with the box to the principal’s office. Then he called my parents in so we could talk about how messy my desk was.

Obviously, the teacher’s plan to shame me into cleaning my desk did not pay off because as I look around right now – I still sit amongst chaos.

Magazines and books that I want to read but haven’t gotten to. But I don’t want to shelve them because then I might forgot them. A calendar and dead lava lamp, tons of papers (not stacked but haphazardly thrown around), my “You’ve been bad jar” for myself and co-workers (it’s usually full of treats but is empty right now – I guess a lot of people have been bad), Chex mix, CDs, pens, pictures of the family, a box of client marketing collateral…any normal person would probably start cleaning it right away but not me.

My mother-in-law says her boss is the same way – that she’s never met anyone cluttered. She doesn’t know how he gets anything done.

I defended him by saying, “That’s how I work. I’ll clean it up and then it’ll be a mess again in a few hours so why bother. I know where mostly everything is. It just looks awful to you.”

In some ways, the web is just like this. There’s not much organization. You have to search for what you want and hope that Google or the other search engines find what you want. If not, you start the search over adding different terms to your search.

It can be frustrating when you can’t find what you are looking for but it can also be exciting when you find something that you never knew was there. And when you find it, you often share it with someone. Because what’s the use of finding something cool if no one knows you’ve found it.

This is another reason for why you should have a siteless web presence. The web isn’t organized. Heirarchies have been replaced. If all you have is one website, you are one against millions and millions of other sites.

You need to be in a lot of places all at once so when someone is doing a search, they may come across you. Maybe it’s not your main site but it can always redirect there.

And, when they do come across you, you have to be interesting enough that they might want to share you with a friend. Because it’s easy to share with friends on the web (del.icio.us, stumble upon, digg – there are lots of social bookmarking sites.)

In fact, you should put this on your site. It’s from Add this! It’s easy and free and can’t hurt unless your website is painful to use and ugly – then you might get some unexpected traffic from people making fun of you and your company.

Funny story about that. I was once sitting in a meeting when a client brought up the fact that their website actually cost them business. The prospect had pointed out that if they were such a wonderful technology software company then why did their website look like a grade school student had put it together. Ouch.

If you have problems like this, then come see us at Mediasauce.com. We’ll help you out.

Siteless Web Presence Part Two or why not be in all places at once?

So how do you get a siteless web presence?

Your website is one place on the web. One place that Google can direct traffic. When a person does a search for your site then you’ll hopefully pop up. If you have the right kind of URL, Title Tags, Meta Tags, and enough relevant content about you on the home page.

Now I’m not saying you need to talk about yourself a lot – just the right keywords. And I’m never into talking about myself too much – you should be talking to your customers, telling your story, and explaining your unique benefits.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll post a blog on what kind of tags you should be using and how they work on a website. Anybody interested in that?

Anyway, back to siteless web presence, after your Google search on your website, other sites pop up. Are they your competitors or just useless information that Google pulls out of the web universe?

You should dominate that page, right? You don’t want a competitor sitting right below you or above you if they know what they are doing with search and you don’t.

You can with a siteless web presence. If you take your content and put it out on other websites that are consistently searched by Google then soon you will begin to dominate Google searches. Now this doesn’t work for all searches but when it comes to a search for you, you should be there.

Here’s what I’ve done for my company, MediaSauce. Now this isn’t guaranteed. It’s a work in progress all the time because Google is constantly updating its algorithm and indexing more and more sites.

Search for MediaSauce through Google.

We come up right away. Then there are links to some blogs where people mentioned us and then there’s a software company that sells a product named MediaSauce (they used to dominate our page but I’m trying to work them down off the front page) then there are our blogs and our Flickr account.

Now how is it that just a few mentions in an outside blog can drive a link in the middle of my search page. Well, it’s all about Google believing that the content is relevant to MediaSauce. Which it is. And I’m going to give the blogger, Jenny Lu, some Google love by pinging her back with this blog.

But our siteless presence that I can control deals more with putting our content on outside sites, putting the right information in about our company and tagging it appropriately so Google can see it and index it.

Now as far as I know there isn’t a set of steps you can do that will automatically work. It’s more trial and error and if anyone knows a set of steps, please fill me in. But what I’ve found that works is making sure you are constantly updating your external sites as much as you update your own website. By adding more and more relevant content.

Here’s what ad agency, Modernista, did. They took it to an extreme but I think it’s very powerful. Having a site like this is not for everyone and I am in no way saying you shouldn’t have a website.

I’m saying you need to also have a siteless web presence which means letting people take your stuff and put it wherever they feel like it on the web.

Take for example, you sell something in retail – maybe shoes. You have your little store in Broadripple and you are just getting into online selling. Some of your customers that are farther away are starting to buy online and you are promoting it as best you can.

What I would do to give myself a siteless web presence…I would take photos of all the shoes and put them up on Flickr or Photobucket or Smugmug with links back to my website for purchase.

I would take videos of models (my employees with good feet) walking around in my beautiful shoes. I would put them on many video sites using heyspread.com or just doing the standard youtube.com.

I would make a widget using Slide pulling from Flickr and then put that on my blog about shoes (you need a blog, just get over it and do it where I talk about shoes).

I would also allow people to take the slide widget off my website if they want so they can put it on their facebook or myspace profile or wherever they want.

I would get a cool technology company to build me a retail selling widget based on my store so if someone wanted to take my retail store and put it on their site, they could. I would take this widget and put it on my profile pages.

Then I would visit other people’s shoe blogs and talk (positively – no need to flame anyone here) about their shoes and leave behind my link or small slide widget on their forum or blog. I wouldn’t promote my own shoes but I would join the conversations and let people follow the links if they wanted.

Then I would be very careful to watch my conversions in my online presence. Is stuff working or is it not? I would watch my analytics to see if people were using the widgets or visiting the site. Then adjust.

And I would search myself on Google and make sure I was easy to find and I dominated my page…I would work on getting into other searches like basic shoe searches for the brand names I carry, etc… but that’s a blog for another time.

I feel like this blog isn’t finished. There’s so much more I would do but these are some of the basics. Siteless web presence is getting your name out on other sites instead of just trying to get them to come to you. Go where the people are.

What do you think?

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