Customer Experience in an Interactive Age
Customer Experience is of paramount importance in the digital age. Businesses and companies of all sizes and types need to not only be aware of, and reactive to the technologies and platforms that connect them to their customers but the way in which they use them as well. How a business chooses to respond to their customers is as important as the speed with which they do so.
Word of mouth is no longer limited to between one individual and another; with the advances in mobile technology, social media platforms and the rise of customer review sites – a single customer can make their opinion known on a global scale.
Positive reviews and feedback are, of course, a great indicator of how well your product or service is doing – the comments generated are generally targeted, focused, and encourage both brand awareness and a consumer confidence that costs the company nothing to generate.
Some companies choose to purchase reviews or feedback, but this can be a double-edged sword – if done successfully, consumer confidence is boosted and sales may increase. However, if the target audience doubts the authenticity of these reviews, they will generally lose confidence in not just the product but the overall brand as well, branding the reviews ‘fake’ and untrustworthy. Paid reviews, generally, are treated by the public with contempt as they distort and undermine their efforts to ensure they are getting the best possible product or service.
Many sites that offer reviews also allow consumers to ask questions regarding the products or services available. Being aware of such sites, and answering these questions yourself, can ensure that the potential customer receives the most up to date and correct information – monitoring these channels can increase sales and brand confidence by reassuring your customers that your company is aware of their issues or questions, and is active in engaging with them.
How to Deal with Negative Feedback
Unfortunately, negative feedback or reviews is a fact of life whether it is deserved or not. How you choose to deal with this is probably more important than how you interact with happy customers; it is, after all, a fact that more discussion and commentary is generated by a negative experience than by a positive one; and many people when reviewing an item or service will assess these low ranked comments when making their decision.
There are some individuals or companies that take an aggressive approach with their customers – declaring that the individual is either wrong, somehow to blame, or occasionally both. Due to the viral nature of the internet, aggressively handled feedback tends to reach the public consciousness very quickly and can do a great deal of lasting damage in a very short space of time. In some cases, this aggressive approach can see a temporary increase in sales, especially for a service (such as restaurants or places people can visit), as amused readers want to test the validity of the claims and become part of the experience. However, this is only in the short term and these individuals will not generally become repeat customers, nor will they aid in restoring a damaged reputation. When a new or more interesting topic becomes the latest trend, all that is left is a lasting impression of negativity and aversion, something that can be difficult to dispel even after time or with the expense of an image change.
Handling this sort of situation with good grace and good humour can often achieve this same short-term boost in popularity without the damaging after-effects, leaving the company with a reputation for being approachable, human and trustworthy – valuable traits that money simply can’t buy.
So be it positive or negative, feedback and reviews across the vast number of digital platforms available, have brought the consumer closer than ever before. With the right social media management, companies and individuals can harness this incredible resource and use it not only to increase brand awareness, consumer trust and engagement but also as a way of gauging reaction to company policies and advertising campaigns, identifying customer demographics and ensuring that developments made are worthwhile and will be well received.
As an increasing number of consumers turn to reviews and interactive platforms for their information, it is more important than ever to ensure that you have a firm grasp of not only your social media management but your approach in how you interact with people when the world is watching.