Social CRM: How to Find Out What Your Customers Are Saying

It’s important for your Social CRM to hear what your customers have to say about your brand. Before the Internet, retailers never had to deal with was customers from across the globe sharing all manner of opinions with fellow customers in easy-to-access public forums with no permission required.

For example, the web abounds with stories about restaurants that have treated their customers with disrespect or bad service. Pre-Internet, the complaints were only heard via word of mouth by local customers. Now customers get the benefit of hearing the opinion of customers they don’t know personally.

The types of products and services you offer dictate where your products are reviewed. Here are some places where you’ll find online reviews:

  • Epinions: This is a mature site that hosts reviews on a variety of topics. Their tagline “Unbiased reviews from real people” ensures that reviewers are encouraged to give the unvarnished truth.

  • Yelp: This site hosts product and service reviews in various business categories. Yelp has over 54 million unique page views per month and categorizes its data by location and type.

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  • Amazon.com: This site’s review database is actually the largest online opinion website because every product it sells has a space for reviews. Before purchasing, customers pour over what others have to say.

  • TripAdvisor: This site provides extensive information and reviews about vacation spots, hotels, and restaurants. A great addition is the abundance of photos.

  • Urbanspoon: This site is great if you’re looking for menus and reviews for local restaurants. If you’re in the restaurant industry, check here to find out what customers are saying about your business.

One general finding about customer reviews is that one or even a few negative reviews won’t turn a customer off. Most people know that you can’t please everyone and realize that some negative comments attached to a product listing simply means that real people are sharing their opinions.

Don’t be afraid to let bad reviews stand, even when you’ve tried your best to resolve them. If potential customers sense that you’re censoring your reviews, they’ll leave quickly, never to return. Responding to negative reviews gives you the opportunity to demonstrate that you want to engage unhappy customers and fix things.

It’s also a good idea to provide a link to these reviews from your site instead of trying to host the reviews yourself. You’ll get more exposure on a site with multiple restaurants. In searching the database, someone may run across a review of your restaurant and be inspired to try it.

So how should you deal with feedback received in online reviews? Consider the following tips:

  • Stay positive when you react to negative reviews. Don’t get drawn into petty name-calling. It’s a real turn-off to customers. Even if you are right, you need to maintain a respectful tone. Remember that you’re speaking to the audience at large, not just one customer.

  • Look at the bigger picture. Each review, whether positive or negative, is an opportunity for you to educate your audience about you. If you add tips, you’ll have used the review as another social media channel. For example, if applicable, you could say something like, “Next time, try our deserts — the chocolate lava cake is very popular among chocoholics.”

  • Be authentic. Answer reviews like a real person would. If you use company-speak, you’ll make reviewers feel like they aren’t important.

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