Every company has service or product failures.
- Don’t care why the service or product failures happened and don’t want excuses.
- Do want to know that the business has identified and remedied the cause of those failures.
- May stay with (or return to) a business that has identified and remedied the cause of past failures.
- Want to work for a company that has a great reputation.
- Feel motivated when they see they can be part of the process of identifying and remedying service and product failures.
Excellent companies engage in reputation management — the process of receiving and responding authentically and promptly to news and customer complaints.
A business should only engage in reputation management when leadership is ready to commit time and money to identifying and remedying service and product failures.
Automated vs. authentic responses
While Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools can be useful for monitoring customer feedback, reputation management can not be completely automated because automated responses come across as “canned” and not specific to the needs of the customer. Automated responses to customer and employee complaints should only be used to communicate that a real person will be getting back to the customer with a substantive response within a specified time frame.
Every complaint should be reviewed and should receive a unique and authentic response. Part of what makes a response authentic is to have a real person use his/her personal style in the written response.
The customer or employee is not always right. If a customer is using the complaint process to harass or harm the business, other customers, or employees of the business, that customer should be corrected with facts and/or even the legal process when especially egregious.
If there is any validity to a complaint, businesses should address the specific facts related to these valid points. Points that are purely opinion can be subtly attributed to the individual’s taste or opinion. Business need not respond to most non-factual points: businesses must trust that most people can discern a genuine complaint from an opinion.
Writing good responses
Short, concise responses typically produce a more positive response than long, redundant responses. If the author of responses can pull off humor well, then humor is acceptable, and many even draw a following.
The bottom line is that reputation management may feel like magic when it is functioning properly, but those who put in the hard work to support it know it’s not magic: it is work that involves time, skill, and clear intention to improve processes and relationships.
Why does reputation management matter?
Many people search online for reviews for a business before contacting them for a quote or sale. According to a customer review survey by Bright Local, 86% of customers read reviews for local businesses they are considering and more than half will not buy a product or service from a business that has an average rating of less than 4 out of a possible 5 stars.
Information received through reputation management can greatly help a business find those opportunities to become excellent and exceed their competition.
Responses to reviews can help prospective customers learn how a business has improved in recent months and how they can get the best results from their interactions with the business. Responses also can help a business that has recently received new ownership/management or is in the process of re-branding. Finally, reputation management helps tell the business’ history and brand story!