Online Reputation: Check to see if you are offending your online customers

If your business has a website and you have taken the plunge to start using Social Technology then please pay attention to the fact that your customers will expect a certain level of online service –If you are failing to respond on Twitter or to blog post comments, forum posts, emails, or other online communications you will start to alienate customers!

Customer Expectations

Although most companies nowadays have set up websites (and if they have not then they should if they don’t want to be invisible very shortly) many don’t move beyond that first step online and this means that all they have effectively is an online static brochure.

And you also need to consider your customer relations strategy due to the fact that once you have an online presence, your customers will increase their expectations accordingly.

They will expect you to respond rapidly to online communications. If you fail to do so because you’re not monitoring the channels they use, then they will feel ignored and snubbed – they won’t assume you simply don’t know about their comments.

Here are five ways your online business could be failing to deliver.

No Customer Response on Twitter

Many people use Twitter to complain about problems they’ve experienced with a company, and they aren’t just sounding off to their friends.

It’s simply accepted that large brands will be monitoring for mentions and will respond to complaints made through this public platform. (See OUTsurance and their Facebook complaints page, as this is a great example of how to turn complaints into long term satisfied customers

Even if you don’t actively use Twitter to engage with your customers, you should have searches set up for your brand. That way you can ask dissatisfied customers to direct message you their contact information and look into their complaints.

Actively responding online can turn a furious client into a satisfied one; it’s amazing the difference a bit of proactive customer service can make.

No One’s Replying to Comments Left on Your Blog

I understand that blogging can take time – you have to come up with ideas, write them up, proof them, and publish them.

But that’s not where the work ends. If you’ve published an article on your website and a customer responds with a comment or question, it’s important to respond.

After all, they have taken the time to read your thoughts – it’s only polite that you do the same when you’re using a sociable platform like a blog. Otherwise it looks as though you think the online conversation should only flow one way, and that’s not really the point of a blog.

Make sure someone from your company or organisation is responding to any questions raised; it’s just good ‘netiquette’.

No Customer Response to Emails

If you share an email address, you are inviting people to contact you that way and so you have to be ready to respond.

It tends to be smaller brands with less of a web presence that offend customers this way, but it’s avoidable with just a couple of hours of extra admin time.

You Ignore Their Forum Comments

When the great online social revolution began, many larger businesses set up forums for their customers.

The idea was that customers would interact with each other, filling the pages with unique content and linking to interesting discussions, which is great for SEO.

But it didn’t quite work out like that. Many such forums ended up filled with spam, inflammatory comments, and rants, so companies quickly shut them down or simply backed away.

However, if you do still have a forum, then you can’t simply ignore it. Not only does a spam-filled mess of a forum harm your brand, you risk missing serious questions and complaints from real customers.

Either shut down your ineffective forum or ensure there is someone policing it, sparking genuine discussions and responding to real complaints, comments, and questions. Otherwise your visitors will feel ignored.

You Treat Online Communications Less Seriously Than a phone call or personal visit

This attitude seems particularly prevalent among smaller businesses. Because it’s easier for people to complain via the web than by writing a letter or calling, they take online complaints less seriously.

This has certainly changed over recent years and many people routinely communicate by email, whether it’s casual or formal.

So don’t assume that their query is less important than any other channels – any customer who has bothered to contact you expects a swift and serious response.

If you need help with your online reputation, contact WSI for expert advise.