The 7 Step Guide to Managing Negative Customer Feedback: A case study in consumer fraud, social media & the power of reviews.

If you’ve ever been the recipient of a bad online review of your business, you may find yourself frustrated by the apparent lack of control we as entrepreneurs have over things being said about our business – especially if they’re not true.

What proactive steps can you take to protect your business, and how do you best handle a peer review gone wrong?

1. Adapt your mindset.

The worst thing you can do is tell yourself this article isn’t relevant to your business and click away.


We need to adapt in order to survive and thrive, and today’s consumers have more power than they’ve ever had to affect our success.
70%  of Canadians online trust consumer reviews. (BDC, 2013)
Negative sentiment can go viral, quickly – as exemplified by the Applebee’s social media nightmare – and can be very difficult to manage.
Understanding the change in buyer behaviour and accepting that it’s not going away, frees you up to take in the following information to help protect your business.

2. Get informed:

Increasingly Canadian consumers such as you and I, rely on the web to make our purchasing decisions.

social media

1. Canadians spend on average 2.5 hours a day online; on social media, watching videos, & researching products and services. ComScore, 2014
2. Nine out of 10 consumers claim to use their smartphone for pre-shopping activities BDC 2013
3. 70% of Canadians online trust consumer reviews. (BDC, 2013)
None of this is particularly surprising.
The widespread adoption of web connected smartphones is not a new phenomenon.
In fact many older and wiser of us lament the pervasive nature of these devices and their impact on social connection –  and more practically – our ability to walk down the street without literally running into people distracted by their smartphones.

social media
Beyond being a mildly irritating obstacle to efficient walking, this change in how we as a culture interact has widespread implications for today’s business owner.

The constantly connected state of today’s consumer – specifically – your customers – means your customers shape your brand’s reputation.

Customers and the public at large (reasonable and otherwise) can seriously impact your ability to acquire new customers and maintain your reputation.

3. Know that negative sentiment goes far beyond review sites:

You may have heard of “reputation management” in the context of managing reviews of your business, or even been approached by a less than integrity based business offering you positive reviews of your business, for a price.

But beyond the formal review channels, people can leave negative sentiments on your Facebook page, in response to a post on social media…and almost anywhere else on the web.

4. Start listening:

Google your business name to see what comes up. You may be surprised at the places it’s listed and what people are saying about your company.

If you are surprised, it’s a sign to implement some practices internally to start monitoring your company’s reputation.

You can either manually conduct a search regularly or implement an automated solution to alert you immediately of any new conversations about your business.

Here’s a handy list of 5 tools to help you monitor your online reputation from Social Media Examiner.

5. Address any and all reviews.

You may be tempted to ignore bad reviews or complaints, but believe it or not it makes you look worse if you don’t reply publicly.

Here are 5 tips to responding to reviews from Google My Business.

Tips for responding to reviews

Business owner responses allow you to build relationships with customers, but they’re also public. When replying to your customers, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Be nice and don’t get personal. This isn’t just a guideline–it’s also a good idea as a business owner. It’s difficult to win an argument with a frustrated customer, and you want to avoid burning bridges. Keep your responses useful, readable, and courteous. In addition, responses should comply with our local content policy.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Users are looking for useful and genuine responses, but they can easily be overwhelmed by a long response.
  • Thank your reviewers. Respond to happy reviewers when you have new or relevant information to share. You don’t need to thank every reviewer publicly, since each response reaches lots of customers, not just one.
  • Be a friend, not a salesperson. Your reviewers are already customers, so there’s no need to offer incentives or advertisements. Tell reviewers something new about your business, or share something they might not know from their first visit.

6. Go above & beyond:

The tone and speed of your response to a bad review is where you can really make or break your reputation.
In this CTV news clip, I was asked to comment on what appears to be a fraudulent sale of goods by a household brand.

This would never have become a news story if the response to the customer’s complaint on their facebook page hadn’t been a canned response to call their 1 800 number – where the customer didn’t get a response.
In the case studies above, with Winners & Applebees, both responses to the negative sentiment were woefully inadequate and appeared completely disingenuous.

Because customer sentiment can so powerfully and permanently affect your reputation, if you are in the wrong (like I believe Winners was ) you need to go above and beyond-
1.Get the customer’s information
2. Make an effort to get in touch with them right away.
3. Work to resolve the issue to their satisfaction
4. Once you get agreement on a solution, ask if the customer will then update their post with details on how you came through for them.
5. Going forward – work with your social media manager to create a policy for addressing unhappy customers in a way that shows you actually care.

7. Be proactive

By actively soliciting positive reviews- and incentivising your customers to do so, you can combat any negative and unfair reviews with a steady stream of positive reviews.

Copy and paste this templated email and send out to all your happy customers;  ( just replace the links with your Facebook & Google Plus page links before you send )

Dear customer,

Thank you so much for your business.

Please- tell us how we did!

Would you be so kind as to post a review for me on my Facebook page or my Google page?

I really appreciate you taking the time to give me your feedback!

Tweet like a Rock Star – 3 tips for easy Twitter Marketing

marketing campaignSince its genesis in 2006, Twitter has become a global stage that anyone can step onto, grab the mic, and sing to their own audience. Thanks to the potential for easily reaching such a wide array of fans, it has become an integral part of most small business marketing campaigns today.

The only problem is, with so many voices vying to be heard, how can you make sure you don’t become just another brick in the wall?

Being middle-of-the-road means getting drowned in sound, your voice left unheard along with anyone else who only seems to sing for themselves. If you want to get noticed, you have to leave the world of MOR, and concentrate on leaving people wanting MOAR.

This means escaping the road to nowhere and learning how to tweet like a rock star. By following these three simple tips for your Twitter marketing campaign, you’ll soon be well on the way to headlining your own gigs.

Plan your setlist

The best rock concerts are the ones where it seems anything can happen. Of course though, the band do know exactly which songs to play and in what order to hold the show together.

In much the same way, the tweets you send out as part of your marketing campaign can be prepared, put down into a list, and scheduled to automatically go out in sequence and at specific times.

By using a service such as Buffer or Hootsuite, you can easily schedule a whole list of tweets that will be sent out whenever you choose. The benefits of this are twofold, giving you more free time by allowing you to schedule all of your tweets for the week ahead in one session, while also ensuring they are sent out at optimal times, when more people will see them.

Collaborate with your peers

Going solo is a career move that has worked for many rock stars, but doing so on Twitter is one of the worst strategies for your marketing campaign.

Giving a shout out to people, be they your fans or people in the same industry, will make them like you a whole lot more as they appreciate the effort you put into acknowledging or promoting their content too.

Every time you mention somebody or re-tweet their post, they’ll receive a notification, which gives you a chance of being mentioned or re-tweeted in return, with the latter being a big deal if they are a bigger influencer or have a wider audience than yourself.

Perhaps more importantly than receiving reciprocal Twitter activity however is the fact that by appearing in their notifications, you are keeping yourself at the forefront of their minds, which is the best place to be for your marketing campaign.

Hold live shows

As recently as a few weeks ago, Twitter acquired and launched Periscope, a live streaming video app that is looking to add a major string to the social media giant’s already impressive bow.

Downloading and installing the app will allow users to stream and view live videos on their Twitter profiles, increasing the options for creative new ways to bring your marketing campaign to your growing audience.

The live streams also take up more screen real estate than text-only tweets and engage the user for longer than a single image will, helping your content and name to stick in the mind for longer.

For a marketing campaign to have the desired results, standing out from the crowd on Twitter is a must. By following these three tips, you’ll open the doors to tweeting like the rock star you’ve always wanted to be.