For a small business or retail store, “listening to customers” happens everyday. But as explored in the post “2 Reasons Why Store Managers Don’t Hear Their Customers” it may not be accurate. Truth is, there is real value in giving your customers multiple channels to engage in a dialog with you. With the advent of social media and the instant feedback loop of facebook, twitter, yelp and others it is possible to become aware of an issue and address it quickly in a way that can earn your store or business more respect than ever.
Some basic rules for engaging with a customer who provides feedback online are:
- Always respond quickly. Negative and positive feedback should get the same urgent response. When a customer shares something positive, make sure to add a fun and humble response.
- Thank customers for taking the time to make you aware of something. They didn’t have to and it means they still care if they are willing to try to engage with your brand online.
- Don’t auto-respond: be brief, honest and respectful. Above all, be professional. Your responses will be online for months if not years into the future. Make sure you can turn off your emotions before responding.
- Take disputes offline. If your customer is TRULY wrong, contact them privately to work out a compromise.
In the course of your business day, you may believe you are close enough to your customer to accurately anticipate what they want and need. A business person who believes that they completely understand their customer should ask themselves: if I don’t completely understand my spouse (or child, partner, parent, co-worker), how on earth could I believe that I completely understand all of my customers? Makes you think, right?