Lessons from a Jamaican Party Cruise
Several years ago, I went on a cruise with my family to several places in the Caribbean. One of the stops was Jamaica where we decided to take an excursion on a Jamaican party boat. This was probably one of the best parts of the cruise as we had the opportunity to do some snorkeling, visit Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, and just hang out on the small boat with friends and music. As we were leaving, one of the crew members held up a bucket that said “TIPS” and said, in her Jamaican accent, “If ya had a good time, tell everybody. If ya didn’t, don’t tell nobody!”
Wouldn’t it be nice if that were the case these days. Instead, it seems as if the opposite takes place. People have the tendency to spread their bad experiences with much more energy than they do their good ones. One-time mistakes, misunderstandings, and just plain spiteful customers have a lot of power over the success of our businesses and reputations online. How do we manage something over which we have so little control? Here are a couple thoughts.
Ask For Feedback Offline
One way that many businesses manage their online reputation is by curbing the negativity before it makes it to the web. This can be done through sending comment cards, sending an email looking for honest feedback, or just calling to follow up shortly after the event. Nothing is worse than being blindsided by a complaint weeks or months after a wedding. Honestly seeking feedback can reduce these issues and give you the opportunity to address the real concerns before they make it to Google or Yahoo.
Be Diplomatic when Addressing Negative Comments
When somebody posts a negative comment, it’s not the end of the world, nor is it the beginning of World War III. Any contempt on your end when rebutting or addressing the issue can be seen in a negative light by other potential clients…so be diplomatic. Recognize the concern, express your desire to provide the best possible service, and reassure the customer that your intent was for them to have the best experience possible. If you disagree with what they say, do so politely and without making things worse. If you respond directly through a post on whatever review site they use, make sure to take the opportunity to address the general public as well, ensuring them that this was an isolated or minor incident. You may even want to include a link to your testimonials page.
Let Your Loyal Customers Fight the Battle
Don’t be afraid to share the negative comment with some of your favorite and/or most loyal customers. Invite them to chime in about their experience. Surrounding the one negative with targeted positives can really help rescue your reputation and even increase its value as you show your prospects that you are someone that can be trusted.
In an industry full of emotion and great expectations, there is always the danger of falling short in one way or another. The best way to avoid complaints is to strive for excellence in serving your customers. However, when we misstep, address the concerns immediately and directly to save face online.
How have you successfully combated negative feedback online?