Whether you are at an established company or at a startup the pressure on you as a marketer to deliver is immense. To make matters more challenging it is likely that your marketing budget has been cut. Every dollar you spend is questioned for ROI and in most meetings you are asked about developments in social networking, customer service and online reputation management because it is in the press and tantalizingly promises high return at low cost.
Whatever category your business is in, online customer service and reputation management are marketing tactics you should be employing that compliment almost any brand at very little cost.
In today’s economy no single thing matters as much for your sales and loyalty as building a great customer service brand. This is an area of marketing often overlooked or muddled with expensive and hard to use tools. If you are even aware of your customer service problem it is likely you first came across it the way most consumers do by finding a review about your company online on a search engine.
Online reviews are here to stay and many current and potential customers use internet search engines to help guide their online research in deciding where to buy. You can leverage the world of online consumer reviews in your favor and often have more impact on thousands of active consumers’ purchasing intent then the best TV commercial.
Whether you have a large customer service department or none at all, already have a good customer service reputation or need to build one, many new online customer service tools exist today that are often free or low cost.
What You Can Do Now to Improve Customer Service and Reputation
Start asking your top customers to review you on customer service sites like MeasuredUp.com or angieslist.com. By confidently asking top customers for customer service reviews you will have dozens of complimentary reviews of your company online in no time. These will negate most bad reviews, increase your ranking on search engines and help interested potential customers to find and trust you when researching online. The goal is not to have only good reviews as even the best companies have some bad reviews about them online. The goal is to have a balance and to demonstrate through association that your brand is focused on improving customer service.
Individuals are talking about you on the Internet whether you like it or not. On thousands of personal sites, as well as Facebook and Twitter, content that mentions you or a competitor is constantly being added. You need to join this conversation even if you can’t control it.
What You Can Do Now to Respond to Online Comments
Identify a person on your staff to spend about 5 hours a week searching for unflattering reviews or mentions about your company or articles about something that is relevant to your business. When there is a comment field have them write some intelligent and helpful content in response. State that they are an employee of the company and include a URL to your site. Do not try and pretend to be a consumer as this will likely be found out and create further uncomplimentary content. This effort will help rebut negative views, show your company cares about its reputation and will help drive traffic to your company website. If you come across compliments add on a quick “Thank You” comment and that you care about your reputation and appreciate the support of customers.
This tactic is focused totally on trolling Facebook, Twitter and Blogs to “invite” connections with current and potential customers. This is a hard position to measure effectiveness on but you have to consider this proactive marketing. The opportunity cost saved is that you don’t have uncontrolled rumors online. Many PR firms are starting to offer this service but the fact is they don’t really get it and won’t be able to react as quickly as someone in your company culture who understands your brand.
With these two easy and inexpensive marketing tactics you can quickly augment your existing marketing efforts and start to raise your company’s social media presence, customer service and online profile while helping increase sales and build online reputation.
These tactics should be factored into your budget as the cost of doing business if you want to compete in today’s interconnected digital world.
About the author: Marc Karasu is a senior marketing executive and digital marketing expert with 20 years experience. He is also the founder of Measuredup.com, the leader in online customer service and reputation management. He can be reached at MeasuredUp.com or his marketing consulting website MAKtaste.com.