The Customer is Always Right: Listen and Build Your Brand

By Markerle Davis

the customer is always right

What’s the best way to learn what people really think about you? Find out what they say when you’re out of the room. This is one of the best – but least understood – ways in which social media can help you to make your business better.

Embrace criticism

For many business owners, the rise of Twitter and other social media sites fills them with a certain kind of dread. They know they should be doing something but aren’t exactly sure what – worse still negative feedback can be damaging. If a customer has bad service they can moan about it for the whole world to see. Some have seen their business drop off a cliff because of a few bad reviews.

Rather than see this as a danger, though, you can also see it as an opportunity. Monitoring mentions of you on social media is a great way to assess brand performance and work out ways in which you can improve. If you handle it the right way a bad review also needn’t be the PR nightmare you’re dreading. In fact, it can boost your image.

For example, let’s imagine a customer has spent ages trying to order something online without luck. We’ve all had those moments – spending ages filling out forms, correcting errors only to be told that the system has crashed.

It’s frustrating, makes us hate the brand, and most importantly stops us buying. In a matter of minutes, it’s turned a potential customer into a PR headache.

But that can be a good thing. Businesses lose a huge amount of money every year because customers bail out of the online ordering process. Every additional step, every glitch creates higher bounce rates.

That enraged customer has actually done you a great favour. He’s told you about a glaring problem in your business process – one which could be costing you thousands in revenue. If that one customer is having a problem, it’s a good bet that others are also.

Of course, your analytics should have already told you that something is up. An unexpectedly high bounce rate in the buying process will tell you that something is going wrong, but what this can’t do is tell you why. As a leading digital marketing agency, we’ve been in countless meetings where a client is telling us that they have a high bounce rate on a certain page, but they’re not sure why or how to put it right. Of course, you can use your own expertise, and that of an internal SEO team to offer some insights, but it’s not as good as finding out straight from the customer themselves.

Speak to your customers

So that’s what you do. Contact the customer and find out what went wrong and how to put it right. The chances are, they’ll be more than happy to help you because it’s in their best interests. They want to use your product and they want it to work well. Better still, that interaction will often be public so, although the complaint is there for all to see, so too is the resolution.

Engaging, then, is a great way to extinguish a potential PR fire and also to learn crucial things about your own business in the process. It works across all areas and can be a great way to learn how your brand is perceived, or how a new product is working.

For example, remember when the US giant Kraft bought Cadbury’s. There was an outcry online of people worried a firm best known for manufacturing cheese strings and something called ‘pink slime’ would ruin the quality of our country’s favorite chocolate brand. That in itself should have told the people at Kraft that they had a problem with their own branding, and that they shouldn’t under any circumstances, do something to mess with the quality of the product.

They didn’t listen. Soon afterwards, they announced that they were changing the chocolate mix from the premium type – as used in their Dairy Milk bars, to something more basic and less appealing. The reaction was quick, sudden and angry. Sales fell. A year after their move, sales of Crème Eggs had declined by £6million.

It’s a hit the company needn’t have sustained had they properly listened to what people were saying about them online. It would have told them the move would be unpopular, it would hit sales and harm their brand reputation. They did it anyway.

Others did listen. GAP’s decision to change their logo in 2010 met with a furious response online which told them two things: people hated the new design, and there was nothing wrong with the old one. They listened and before long the old branding was back.

The lesson to learn from this story is that there are many things about your business which could probably work better. Your customers can help you find this out, but conventional forms of customer feedback will not always highlight this. People tend to be politer about a business when they are talking to a representative. The really good feedback is to be found when you turn your back.

The post The Customer is Always Right: Listen and Build Your Brand appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

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