Reputation Monitoring: Your Customers are Talking About You

March 9, 2011
Reputation Monitoring: Your Customers are Talking About You

Do you know that your customers are talking about you? That thought probably scares you and you may wonder, “What are they saying?” “What if it’s bad?” “What can I do about it?”

Things have changed. The little guy has a voice that can be heard all around the world if the message is clear and rings true. This means that an upset customer can instantly communicate their dissatisfaction to tens, hundreds, or thousands of people via Twitter, Facebook, or a blog — and you can’t stop it!

As a business trying to grow in this environment, how should you respond? It seems to me that most businesses don’t respond at all. They bury their head in the sand and hide because they have no plan for monitoring thier reputation let alone repairing it.  What is your reputation worth?  Is it worth some time and effort to make sure you are participating in the dialog surround your company.  How much easier do you think it will be to solve issues that arrise if you are already active within the online communities where your customers are located?

There are two simple approaches to take toward managing your reputation, and both should be pursued with determination and abandon.

  1. Participate in the dialog. You need a plan for how your company can participate in the dialog that is going on around you. These three points are a good place to start.
    • Engage your customers wherever you can find them. Social media is a good place to start. Twitter, Facebook, & LinkedIn are the obvious choices, but you may also find that your customers are talking about you in other places such as trade websites. Where ever you find them, engage them in a meaningful way. No sales pitches or commercials, though!
    • Seek out wronged customers and make it right. Be careful not to become defensive or argumentative. Making an effort to fix an issue goes a long way toward building good will, even if you are unable to completely resolve the issue.
    • Reward exceptional customers. When you find those priceless customers who say good things about you, then reward them in some way. KLM learned that a small pebble of reward can create large shock-waves in the media.
  2. Fix your customer interaction. You can’t change your company culture overnight, but by gradually evaluating every place where customers interact with your business, you can begin to make changes. If you are successful at satisfying your customers in each of those places you can minimize the negative dialog about your company and increase the positive dialog.

The worst thing you can do is ignore the chatter. It’s out there, whether you realize it or not, and it’s only going to grow. A proactive customer-centered approach to reputation monitoring and customer satisfaction will generate leads, make your sales rep's job even easier, and lead to steady growth. It’s time to pull your head out of the sand and start engaging your customers.  Your reputation depends on it.

Image: iprole