Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is about managing a company’s interaction with current and future customers. CRM can encompass a wide range of tasks, from encouraging customer interaction on social media sites to dealing with customer feedback on public forums such as Trip Advisor and Facebook.
In the past, interaction with customers has been limited to personal interaction on site, over the phone or by writing letters. This meant that in the past, customer’s opinions about your establishment were only spread through word of mouth and was very limited.
The World Wide Web has introduced a variety of new and public ways for customers to interact with an establishment and future customers. Sites such as Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Google reviews and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter offer a place for customers to write a review of their experience that future customers can read.
80% of consumers read online reviews, 70% of consumers trust online reviews (Nielsen)
Customers will write both positive and negative reviews, managing these reviews will encourage positive reviews and reduce the impact negative reviews have on future. Customers are becoming more reliant on these reviews for recommendations and information.
Only 20% of people write reviews influencing the 80% who look for them!
Unfortunately once a negative review is online, it’s nearly impossible to have it removed, however a well planned and implemented CRM strategy will reduce the impact negative feedback has on potential customers.
Establishment owners and managers can find it difficult not to take negative feedback personally. I always remind my client’s to put it into perspective, if they make 1,000 coffees a day they’ve probably made 999 fantastic coffees and one bad one due to a simple case of human error. Unfortunately this could be the one that gets reviewed. It is also important to remember your loyal customers, a negative review is often just one person’s opinion.
Fego Caffé is a fantastic chain of cafés that surround Greater London. What is great about these cafés is that they receive a lot of online feedback from their customers. Magnify Marketing’s role has been to monitor and measure the feedback and respond through the various channels.
To begin with, we learnt about Fego’s food and service policies and the brand’s personality. We used this information to set guidelines on how any negative reviews would be responded to. The guidelines included:
a) Key messages about the quality of Fego’s food and the training their waiting staff receives.
b) Style of writing, taking into consideration the main customer demographic, for Fego we decided responses should come across as professional and friendly.
c) Timeliness of response. We monitor the reviews on a daily basis; a negative review is responded to within 24 hours of being posted
Responding to reviews shows you value every customer. If we go back to the example of the one bad coffee out of 1,000, I would first assure the customer that it is an unusual occurrence that will be looked into and then will often ask them to come back and try the establishment again. This shows you have confidence in your establishment.
I have recently received feedback on one review site from a walking group who felt the wait staff did not make them feel welcome because of their walking attire, the reviewer stated their walking group would boycott in the future. My response expressed my surprise that they were made to feel unwelcome and repeated one of our key messages – that the café supports healthy lifestyles. Then I empathised with her because I do a lot of walking myself and told her I sincerely hoped her walking group would come back. This morning we had another Trip Advisor review from the same reviewer, thanking me for the response, she said they did indeed go back and had much better service. This is proof that responding to negative feedback really does work!
For those brave managers and owners who want to respond to reviews yourselves, then I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping your responses professional, the golden rule still applies online – the customer is always right.
Finally, let’s not forget the positive reviews that establishments receive online. Customers appreciate it when they are thanked for their positive feedback. Wait staff would always say thank you, so why would we ignore good feedback when it’s online? Facebook is the leading source for positive online reviews and this is an opportunity to really interact with customers, instead of just ‘liking’ a customers feedback, engage them with a question, get them talking about their favourite dishes and encourage other followers to engage in the conversation. Interaction will also encourage other customers to write good reviews.