It is the era of online reviews and social media call-outs, which can make it difficult for retailers to manage their online reputations – especially when you consider social media use is on the rise. In fact, a recent study by Hootsuite and We Are Social found that there are 2.8 billion global social media users in 2017. This means that — in one form or another — 37 percent of the world’s population is on social media.
Now these social media users aren’t exactly demure with their opinions about retailers. Social media platforms are a prime destination for disgruntled shoppers to voice their concerns and share their retail experiences. According to The Connected Shoppers Report, 21 percent of retail customers are likely to use social media to request customer service. Leading the charge in this are Millennials, who are 2.6 times more likely than Baby Boomers to reach out to brands on social platforms.
So, just how can you get a handle on your company’s online reputation?
Use the Right Platforms
To kickstart your online review goals, you’ll need to determine which social media channels appeal to your target audience. While it’s a common practice for retailers to dip their toes into any social media platform they come across, it’s far better to focus on using the correct digital channels than to spread yourself too thin. Keep in mind that customers will voice their queries (and complaints) on any social media platform where you have a brand presence, so focus on creating a well-rounded profile which you’re able to moderate regularly.
Respond Quickly to Complaints
Speed is essential when it comes to monitoring complaints… as well any comments via social media. Keeping this in mind, you must moderate your social media accounts regularly. Sprout Social reports that “the average response time for a brand to reply on social media to a user is 10 hours, while the average user will only wait 4 hours.” So, while it might not be convenient, providing fast customer service on social media is expected and — if done correctly — it can be a great way for your company to differentiate itself from your less-than-socially savvy competition. Streamline all of your brand’s social media accounts into one channel by using a platform like Hootsuite or Brandwatch. Additionally, don’t overlook the value of asking customers to share reviews as part of your follow up process to their comments and yes, even complaints assuming you have efficiently supported them in a timely manner.
Take Total Accountability
You know what customers really don’t want to hear when they call out a store or brand on social media? Excuses. Sprout Social found that if a brand does a bad job of responding to customer complaints online, 41 percent those customers will share that bad brand experience with their online network, while just 26 percent will reach out to the brand again on another social network. This means it’s imperative to respond to customer concerns right the first time. To do this, take total and complete responsibility for your company’s actions – even if it wasn’t you that made the mistake. If this seems like a lot to take on, consider hiring a social media manager to handle customer mentions on your company’s most popular social channels.
Cultivate Your Fanbase
This is a big one. To be cliche for a moment “the best offense is a great defense.” In other words, you can manage the public’s perception of your company by connecting with brand advocates on social media and generating positive conversations about your store. The content you put out will eventually outrank any negative comments or call-outs, provided you get enough social shares. So, respond to as many customer comments as possible and encourage engagement from your social media followers. Also, consider putting out your own way of blog posts, photos, or video shorts to muscle-out any of the bad stuff from disgruntled customers.
When a customer calls you out or leaves a negative review it can be scary, but if you’re around long enough it’s also bound to happen. Start managing your company’s online reputation now, so that you’ll be ready to immediately identify negative reviews and to turn your company’s biggest critics into your most vocal advocates!
Take advantage of ASD Market Week’s 90+ free retail strategy sessions this March 11-14, 2018 in Las Vegas.
By Jasmine Glasheen, RetailMinded.com