Every business would ideally love to be able to take the lion’s share of all the local trade.
Building a local reputation for service, quality and price is an important foundation not just for retaining existing custom, but also for reaching new potential customers too. The image of your business, and how it’s perceived by the local community it serves is paramount. Yet, many small businesses seem reluctant to embrace the concept of local internet marketing, assuming that it’s all going to be far too complicated and time-consuming to justify the effort and the cost. It needn’t be either of these. Local internet marketing is a simple concept: if it’s done well, it will pay dividends – if it’s not, then it can potentially harm your business. Nowhere is this better illustrated than with feedback.
Every business likes to viewed as reliable and trustworthy: after all a bond of trust lies at the heart of every financial transaction. If a business provides a satisfactory service then customers will rightly want to praise it. They leave feedback and tell others that you can be trusted to do what you promised. If you mention negative feedback or criticism to businesses, they panic when really there is no need to. Negative feedback can just as valuable as positive reviews.
That might sound like a strange thing to say, but it is true.
If you visit a website or even go on eBay and see a review of a business with a 100% rating or a long list of glowing tributes about the suitability and professionalism of the company, what would be your natural reaction? Would you think that’s brilliant, I’ll definitely do business with that company: or would the cynic in you think, ok so what’s this company hiding? Most I suspect would probably tend towards the latter as, at heart we’re just a bunch of sceptics. Even when businesses tell the truth and nothing but the truth, we consumers are loathed to admit they might actually be being honest. Had Obama agreed to the release of the Bin Laden pictures, you know deep down there would be instant criticism that they’d been Photoshopped. That unfortunately is just the way we human beings are – we’re all cynical at heart to some degree or other.
As a local business you can actually make these criticisms work for you.
No company, however good it might think it is, is perfect. There’s always room for improvement. If customers leave negative comments about the business, then the best thing to do is address the criticism head on, and demonstrate to your local market that you’ve taken it on the chin. What’s more, you’re actually going to do something about it which will ensure this particular criticism is never levelled again. It’s all part and parcel of the great learning curve. If businesses react to negative remarks in a positive and pro-active way, then it will only improve their reputation and engender a greater sense of trust and respect with the customer. The local market relies heavily on the perceived reputation of the business. If customers don’t trust what you tell them, then word will soon spread and that can kill the business stone dead.
So, if your local business just got a hammering from some disgruntled customer, don’t immediately bite back, or worse still ignore the criticism.
Accept it for what it is, and use the feedback to improve your service. In might stick in the throat, especially if you think the comments are unjustified, but that’s life unfortunately. The customer’s always right, even when they’re not, particularly on a local level.