How to protect and manage your online reputation
For many businesses, fulfilling orders online is already a significant element of day-to-day activity and only likely to increase. Doing business online has evolved a great deal in the past few years, and the smart operator realises this is an important sector of the enterprise. There are a number of things to keep in mind to ensure you are delivering a smooth and reliable service that will encourage customers to return. At the same time, it is vital to protect and manage your online reputation. Online service and reputation should work together, but they are different and both need attention.
Willing and Available
It is essential to be there for your customers and enthusiastic about taking calls or answering emails if they have queries. These interactions are opportunities to assist, guide and even direct your customers to find other items they need to buy from you. If you are helpful and friendly, they will remember that.
Exceed Their Expectations
Be truthful with your customers and be accountable for mistakes when necessary. Be clear about what is realistic, and be prepared to investigate if they ask for information you don’t have. Do not promise what cannot be delivered. Aim for a pleasant experience, and even surprise customers with a discount or a gift or some kind of upgrade to indicate you value their business. But don’t save rewards for difficult customers: share the joy with loyal customers too. If you notice visitors have trouble navigating an area of your website, then do something about it. Be an expert that your customers can rely on to give them great advice.
Make It Easy
Design your shopping with the customer’s convenience in mind. Make the process of purchasing from you as simple and straightforward as possible. Customers quickly lose interest in sites that are overly complicated or are very slow to process transactions. Make the navigation clear, and include a simple way of amending the order before the customer confirms the purchase. If someone orders the wrong item or receives something they are not happy with, then have a simple policy in place for returning items. Customers will appreciate this, but providing plenty of essential information and support before the sale could eliminate most returns anyway.
Customers now expect to interact with websites, Facebook pages and ratings forums. Accept that, as part of the digital age, customers will discuss your business, its products, services and customer care. Take it on board as valuable feedback. Be prepared to deal with negative comments promptly and courteously. The way you react will probably be monitored as much as the action you take. Under no circumstances insult the reviewer, no matter what they say. If they are wrong, then point this out politely. If they have a valid point, thank them and address it. Sometimes a comment, such as a negative feeling not based on anything specific, is best left alone.
Companies now need to keep track of what is said about them on social media. A small business could keep track of its own accounts or use a free service like Google Alerts. A larger enterprise might need a professional agency. If you look after your customers, then hopefully negative media mentions will be rare.