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Don Schindler

Executive Reputation Coach & Digital Marketer

Tag: consumer

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.

Finding Consumer Insights in Social Media

So the kids and I went to check out Eagle Creek Reservoir Beach on Sunday afternoon.

I’m very proud of my oldest daughter. She has finally learned to swim (after this summer of swimming lessons). But she’s very particular about her nose. She has to have nose plugs on or she can’t go underwater. So be it. Nose plugs it is. No matter how silly she looks.

After being in the water for an hour or so, I decided to start pitching the kids in the air. They love it and it’s some exercise for me. They swim over, I count 1-2-3 then heave them in the air. There’s a big splash and a lot of laughter.

We did this for fifteen minutes or so and I was about done. So the last one is always a doozie. I threw my daughter up as far as I could and she came down with a huge splash. When she came up, her nose plugs were gone.

Aw, man. Now I’m pretty sure you all know lake water. It’s definitely not swimming pool or Hawaiian Island clear. Visibility is like six inches. And even that is questionable.

She was really upset. Now how was she going to swim?

I started feeling the rocky bottom as best as I could in the 36 inches of water. Nothing just a lot of little rocks.

After ten minutes, my brain was telling me this was a lost cause.

You are not going to find them. Just tell her you’ll buy her some more. What are they? 5 bucks or so. Is it worth it?

Maybe not? But I didn’t stop. I prayed a bit and I kept searching with my hands on the surface of the bottom.

Because of the depth of the water, it was a stretch and I couldn’t really go over a big area of the bottom. I was by inching myself along.

Finally, I thought, just go under and do a quick large scan of the immediate area.

I went under, forced myself to the bottom and reached out.

It only took three tries and I had them. I couldn’t believe how fast I found them. It was same area that I had gone across a couple of times but here they were.

My daughter was smiling and swimming again – funny-looking nose plugs and all.

So what’s the moral of this story – what did I learn?

That once I changed how I was searching, once I dove deep into that dark water – the thing I was looking for came right away.

I believe consumer insights are like those nose plugs.  Often insights are hard to come by but they are extremely important.

There’s a good book by Phil Dunsenberry, “One Great Insight is Worth A Thousand Ideas” in which he goes into why an insight is much more powerful than an idea.

To find an insight in the past, we did surveys, focus groups, product testing, and/or relied on the engineers or service people to come up ways to make things better.  Sometimes this works – sometimes it doesn’t.  And it’s amazing how many companies bet the farm on a good idea but not an insight.

But with Social Media, you can find consumer insights.  They are right there waiting to be picked like ripe fruit

If you are new to Social Media (blogs, forums, community networks), I’ll bet it looks a lot like dark lake water. There’s too much noise. You can’t spreadsheet the answers as easily as you can with organized and self-generated research.

But here’s the deal. If you dive in, dive deep and put your hands out, you going to find the answers you are looking for.

People (and this system is entirely made up of real people) will give you honest feedback if you act like a person and not a marketer.

It takes some time – but all good things do take time.

The good thing is that you can start now and catch up pretty quick.  We are at the foundation level of this digital social media thing. You can cut your social teeth along with everyone else.

For all of you that think social media is Facebook and Facebook is fad, you are sort of right. Facebook is a fad but it is a pretty darn popular fad right now.  Some other network might overtake it but it’s not going to be overnight.  And it’s going to do a lot of the same things that Facebook is going right now.

BTW, Social Media is not Facebook. If you want a list of what Social Media is not, click here.

If you are still timid about social media, stop by MediaSauce or give us a call at 317.218.0500.  We would be happy to help you.  We have presentations and clinics you can attend.  Most are free.

I believe after you’ve been swimming in social media for a while, consumer insights won’t be lost under lake water anymore.  They will be floating in the clear blue.

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