You may think that you are in charge of your business, however, in the digital age of social media where anyone has the power to comment on your business and influence both local and global opinion (either via blogs, Twitter, forums, Facebook etc), is this still the case?
There have been many recent high-profile incidents where global brands have been forced to change direction commercially or, at the very least, acknowledge the comments and feedback of disgruntled customers whether they wanted to or not e.g. Dell, Apple are a amongst a distinguished line-up of apologetic global brands.
A few harsh and frank words typed into a blog, Facebook, Twitter or a video review posted to YouTube has the power:
- at worst to bring about a viral movement resulting in an army of disappointed individuals congregating online who collectively could cause serious harm to your business, or
- at the very least rank some negative feedback within Google ready to leap out the next time your dream prospect does a search on your business in Google (and they will).
There is nothing you can do to stop this – and why should you?
Feedback is a gift after all whether positive or negative. It is how you deal with negative feedback that is key when the eyes of the world are watching…
A recent study showed that potential customers warmed more to businesses who had negative feedback but took proactive steps to remedy the complaints compared to those that bathed solely in positive feedback. However, for this strategy to be effective it is vital that you are listening for comments made online about your business – and act on it (quickly).
A good example is my local hostelry, The Swan Hotel in Tarporley. A thoroughly nice country pub and hotel with largely 4-5 stars on Trip Advisor. However, scroll down through the recent reviews (as most people do) and you can’t help but be drawn to a review that gives 1 star and says “Child unfriendly”. Read on and the reviewer goes on to berate the hotel and service for a whole host of cock-ups. Left unattended this review leaves a huge black mark against the rest of the positive reviews and, on personal a note as a father, I’m sure I would be scouring through for alternative child friendly options.
The good news is that the owners of the Swan Hotel were listening and promptly posted the following apology under the review:
Problem (not only) solved but turned into a positive.
Be under no illusion, you are no longer in charge of how your business is perceived. Your business will be held accountable for every action it takes and it will receive continual feedback. Your job as business owner, manager or employee is to listen, respond, engage and use the feedback to continually improve and adapt your products and services.
In this way, your millions of managers can help keep your business on track far better than you could alone.