How One Angry Customer can Ruin your Business With Reverse Online Reputation Tactics
What Do Your Customers Say About You Online?
Social media evangelists have been busy for years trying to explain the importance of social media to your business. Despite their best efforts, many businesses have chosen not to implement a social media strategy at all. Meanwhile, social media channels continue to grow at an explosive rate.
In my opinion, ignoring social media is a mistake that causes you to lose potential customers. Up until now I considered this just a lost opportunity. Recently, I have come to believe that ignoring social media channels is not merely a wasted opportunity, it can actually cause serious damage to your business.
You Have No Social Media Strategy
I recently had a bad experience with a local business. Prior to choosing that particular establishment I had done a cursory google search and found that it had a few good reviews.
After the bad transaction I googled the business again. I left negative reviews on Insider Pages, City Search, Yahoo, Google Pages and Yellow Pages. These review sites outranked the business’s own Facebook Page in google. The next time someone googles that business they will find my review 5 times before they get any other information about the company. This took me about 15 minutes to accomplish. I’m probably also going to blog about it on my personal blog and that posting will be worded and tagged appropriately enough to show up easily in a google search.
Had I wanted to, I could have also tagged their Facebook page and talked about my negative experience. I could have posted a negative review directly onto their neglected Facebook wall and (judging by their twice per year updates) they probably wouldn’t notice for quite some time. What I am saying is that I can actually use their own Facebook page to divert their potential customers! Meanwhile I can also use 4Square to leave a helpful tip to do business elsewhere. Or even to advertise another business that treated me better.
Your Social Media Strategy Is Poorly Executed
As I thought about all the ways I could trash this business for ripping me off, it occurred to me that I often use social media as a tool to fight back at businesses that burn me. A few months before another business had upset me. They did not respond to emails directed to their customer service department. This company does have a Facebook and a Twitter account. I posted negatively on their wall and to their credit, they promptly responded with a generic message directing me to contact customer support.
So as I began the process of getting my money back via the credit card company, I started complaining about it on Twitter. In each tweet I would @ them so they knew I was talking about them. I tweeted several times and I was retweeted several times. No response. All of my followers saw that there was no response.
I did get responses from people who use the service asking me what the company had done. So I told them. I continued to mention the company in each tweet so they could monitor the conversation or jump in at any time. For a couple of weeks the manager of their Twitter account ignored a public conversation in an open forum about their poor customer service. Because the company refused to interact with me, I interacted with their customers instead. Does that sound like it would be good for business?
How to Deal With That One Angry Customer
I recalled a few months before when I experienced poor food service at a restaurant. The receipt asked me for my feedback, so in a fury I typed up an email and off it went. I was still feeling a little jerky though, so I also Tweeted about the bad experience and mentioned them. Because the restaurant was a large corporate chain, I didn’t really expect anything to come of it. But I received an email response within the hour. They informed me that they were getting that store on the phone and fixing this immediately. So not only did they respond promptly, someone took the time to write me a personal email rather than sending out some generic response.
Within only a couple of hours they responded to me on Twitter and offered to help. Then so did their online reputation manager. All on Twitter. I’m willing to bet that had I made a Facebook complaint I would have received a personal response there as well. Before the end of the workday they had resolved the issue and I didn't have a bad thing left to say on any channel. In other words, they shut me up in a hurry.
Still Think Social Media is Dumb?
So let's suppose social media will not help to grow to your business. But forget ROI and instead think Reputation. What are people saying about your business online? What conversations are going on about your particular industry or business on Twitter? Who is recommending your competitors on Facebook? If you don’t know, then you can’t say that you are a part of the conversation. If this is the case then you are surrendering your businesses reputation to anonymous internet users. And the angry ones are the most motivated.
More About Business Reputation
If you would like to read more about how a customer can ruin your business reputation online check out this article where I actually got my money back using online reverse reputation management tactics.