Customer relationship management (CRM) can very quickly turn nightmarish under various circumstances – but when this plays out in the public domain, the stakes are even higher.
Nowadays, people very rarely hesitate before they call out a business on its poor product or service. But instead of calling the customer care helplines (which have become notorious for their clunky automation and high waiting times), customers often post on public platforms to voice their issues.
These can include google reviews, social media, the company’s website, and even the Apple and Google app stores.
Shh – There’s People Watching
Clapping back at your customers is never an option, moreover, navigating an issue on online public forums becomes even harder. First, there is the question of online reputation management…
Off course word of mouth can spread far and wide, but more critically one single post on social media can reach hundreds and thousands in just a couple of minutes. All it would take is one person to wash their hands off your brand to sow the seeds of discontent and doubt in dozen others.
Second is the issue of customer retention. Every single lead is a valuable asset that needs to be retained. If a person makes a comment publicly, they would expect a prompt and an effective response from the company.
Unfortunately, some customers are aware of the power an online public showdown holds, and would not hesitate to engage in some arm twisting. Then there is the issue of making everybody know that the problem has been resolved effectively. Otherwise, people would continue to believe that a problem exists.
Navigating these issues can be a challenge for the customer care team of any company. However, with some established strategies and planning, these issues can be resolved quickly and effectively, thus aiding online reputation management. So, let’s discuss how we can go about this.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in the Wild Wild Net
Navigating issues in the public eye can certainly be challenging, but it can be handled gracefully. Here’s how –
The first step is to realise that bad reviews and disgruntled customers are a part and parcel of every business. It is impossible for you to cater to everybody all the time. So, do not let it hit your morale or the morale of your employees. This also means that you have to keep a look out on all the channels that you use.
Nothing irritates a customer more than them complaining and not receiving a reply. Regularly checking the comments and posts on your social media, websites, and other platforms is thus important to resolve issues as quickly as possible. Otherwise, in no time they just become banners for poor customer service.
Direct to A Private Channel
Asking the person to lay it all out on a public comment section is certainly not a good idea and not the way to go. Instead, direct them to a personal channel of communication which they can use easily. This also ensures that their private details are not inadvertently made public.
A pro tip here would be to use an email or a phone number that is not a part of your standard customer care communication. Chances are the person had already tried reaching out to that department.
So, telling them to contact [email protected] instead of [email protected] lets them know that they will be in direct contact with a high ranking person rather than an automated system. You can, of course, have this email routed to the customer care department for them to solve.
Often, one complaint leads to another and very quickly we have more people chiming in about the same, or a similar issue. This can be very problematic for reputation management, as this indicates a deeper problem in the operations of the company.
If such a thread has developed publicly, it is best to respond to each customer individually and then take them quickly to private channels – simultaneously it is also required to have internal discussions about why the issue had arisen in the first place and how it can be resolved for good.
Remember, only dealing with customer complaints is like merely treating a symptom. Unless the root cause/illness is addressed, the complaints will keep coming back, and will continue to hit your offline and online reputation and will therefore make the work of your customer care team even more difficult.
Even those who had not interacted with these public complaints would know that an issue existed. To make sure that your brand does not take a hit, it is important that all these people also know that the issue has been successfully resolved.
This is why it is essential to provide public updates to resolved issues, especially on those to which multiple people had complained about on these online platforms. But be sure to not single out any individual customer. Keep the update simple, take accountability, and provide details about how this issue will be avoided by you in the future.
Beware of the False Complaints
Mudslinging tactics by competition are nothing new, but the internet social media space has given a whole new scope to these unethical practices.
The internet is full of instances where certain businesses have tried to destroy the reputation of a competing brand by bombing their website and social media handles with false customer complaints. There are some easy ways in which you can weed out such false complaints.
They are usually made from accounts that have no other history or posts, and no identifying features. The same words or phrases are likely to occur in multiple complaints.
These complaints are often more about ”this business is horrible and I’m leaving and never coming back,” rather than the ”help me I’m frustrated with this” tone that the genuine customers may use. Once you have ascertained that the complaint is false, delete the comments and report the accounts.
Pro Tip – Keep an Eye Out
One way in which you can use customer complaints to your benefit is to head over to your competitors websites and social handles and see what their customers are complaining about.
This will help you understand what your competitors are not providing to their customers, which in turn can be used by you to attract them to your business instead.
Remember, we are not talking about going over and making mean comments – if you get exposed, your online reputation management will take a severe hit and it will be near impossible for you to recover. But, there is nothing against you researching and using what is out there in the public domain.
Now that you know about these strategies, you should be able to then engage in customer relationship management in the various online public platforms effectively.
Do you think customers have a right to complain publicly if products and services are not up to the expected standard? Are there any other methods you think would help companies improve their customer relationship management and online reputation management in the public domain? Let us know in the comments below!