Social Self-Destruction

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Don't let this happen to your business!

For the last week, I have been watching a small business self-destruct via Facebook. It hasn’t been pretty and it was totally preventable if the business owner truly understood the power of social media.

I am part of a Facebook group for a vendor I use for my own sewing hobby/ business. The people in the group are not only very active in that particular group, but also in many other related groups. Over the last month, customers have noticed a sudden drop in overall quality of the vendor’s product. Naturally, these customers have reached out to the company’s customer service – but unfortunately, they have gotten less than satisfactory responses. Some customers have even been on the receiving end of responses that are accusatory in nature, with the company blaming their customers!

Customers are understandably upset & are now taking their concerns to the business’ Facebook page, which is common in the “social age.” This is where things are getting ugly. Instead of addressing negative comments & customer complaints, the company deletes them. The company owner has started sending rude Facebook messages to complaining customers, telling them not to post concerns or negative comments to the Facebook page, and going so far as to bring up comments the customers made in other groups.

Yes. The owner is “e-stalking” the customers & monitoring their activity on pages that are NOT the owner’s business page!

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DANGER! DANGER! BAD IDEA!

Further, customers are being banned from the group for “bullying” because they dare to post dissenting opinions. While all of this is playing out, these customers are talking in other groups and even posting screen shots of the messages they received from the business owner. The negativity is getting around and lots of people are talking…which also means that lots of customers are choosing not to shop there anymore. This includes people who have been customers for years and who have spent thousands of dollars with this company – and all of them are now taking their business elsewhere.

This sort of negative attention and resulting customer exodus will certainly have a long-term impact on this vendor’s business. As Maya Angelou famously said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – and you can probably imagine that being insulted by the owner of a company that your dollars helped succeed makes someone feel pretty terrible for a long, long time. In fact, research shows that 39% of consumers will continue to avoid vendors two or more years after a bad experience.

What’s more, a handful of bad customer service experiences can have far-reaching effects - 54% of consumers have shared bad experiences with more than five people. Websites like Yelp! have not only made sharing poor experiences easier, but they’ve also broadened the audience for these tales. This means that even consumers who have not personally been affected by a company’s bad business manners may steer clear of it anyway – as much as 88% of consumers have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a buying decision.

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And this doesn't even include all of the review sites where your business may be listed!

The owner of the company I’ve been watching implode on Facebook could have handled it so much better simply by being transparent over social media. Addressing customer concerns in real time and in a public space makes them feel appreciated & important, and other customers who witness the exchange can rest assured that they will also be heard if they have a problem. Peter Roesler at Inc. offers some good advice:

“A key tenet of good PR is that whenever a company makes a mistake, they need to make an honest effort to acknowledge the problem, apologize and ameliorate the situation. Trying to hide or ignore a problem will only make the effects worse in the long run. This is especially true with complaints on social media networks. Ignoring, deleting comments from, or banning consumers with a legitimate complaint only makes them angrier and they are likely to attack the social media page, or the brand itself, in other ways. For example, they may use a friend's profile to continue posting negative comments, ad infinitum. They may also take their angry comments to a review site or list the business with a scam site.”

The message here is clear: if a business doesn’t properly manage its social media and proceeds to ignore the concerns of customers, then it is just digging its own grave.

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Contributed by Jodie Hook
Jodie

 

 

 

 


Image sources: 1, 2, 3 & 4

 

Call Tracking: a Great Idea, or the Greatest Idea?

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I'm going to be honest with you: I don't have a degree in Business. Or Marketing. I double-majored in Political Science & History...and minored in Philosophy. I'm an egghead, and I'm not even embarrassed about it. But while these disciplines may seem esoteric, and maybe even - dare I say it? - useless, they've been immensely helpful to me in my professional life. All three take copious amounts of information & organize it all to make sense in a broader picture - whether it be to better understand our systems (political science), our past (history), or our very existence (philosophy). This method of thinking & understanding data has convinced me of one thing during my time at RSVP: call tracking changes lives.

Wait, what?

Bear with me.

Call tracking is simple: when your business advertises with us, you have the option to add a call tracking number (and if you participate in our annual bundle program, it's free!). This number is unique to your RSVP ad, and directs to whatever phone line you choose - your business line, your personal cell phone, or a message service. All calls are recorded, and we provide you with a unique & confidential login, so you can listen to the calls generated by your RSVP ad any time you want. We also email you weekly updates that show how many RSVP-based calls you received that week. This is awesome for multiple reasons:

  1. You see results immediately - you don't have to wonder if the prospect calling you is calling because they saw your billboard, your online ad, or what. Their number pops up on your RSVP call report & there you have it!
  2. Call recordings are excellent training tools - we use them at RSVP ourselves! It's great to be able to go back & listen to a call for what went well, as well as what could have gone better.
  3. We know you're busy, so you can't personally answer every lead call that comes in. Call recordings enable you as a business owner to ensure that proper procedures & protocols are being followed when lead calls come in - even if you're not the one taking them.

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"Ralph's Roadkill Cafe, you kill it, we grill it! JUST KIDDING! Thank you for calling Serious Business, Inc., how may I direct your call? Hello? Hello?"

But my favorite reason call tracking rocks is because listening to call recordings helps you pick up on patterns - which offers generate the most interest, or which designs seem most eye-catching. In short, call tracking enables you to take copious amounts of information & organize it all to make sense in your broader business picture. And that is right up my intellectual alley, so I am naturally thrilled when a client calls or emails us and says, "Hey, I haven't had time to listen to my call tracking calls. Can you help me with that?" Or, even better, "I'm not getting any response on my RSVP ad!" (because I also like proving people wrong). These scenarios give me the opportunity to glimpse into our clients' businesses & find out what RSVP is - or isn't doing for them, and what we can do to help their business succeed.

Sometimes our clients are grateful, like the busy client who needed help plodding through her calls to compare them with her sales in order to determine her RSVP return on investment (spoiler: it was pretty darn good!). Other times, our clients are sheepish - such as a long-time client who suddenly claimed RSVP wasn't working, but in one of the recorded call tracking calls, told a competing advertiser that he uses RSVP over other ad sources specifically because RSVP works. And on rare occasions, our clients are not happy with our call tracking analysis - such as the client who advertised in Dayton & Cincinnati, but only spent 4 hours per week in his Cinci location - the location that most of his RSVP prospects were interested in. We suggested he look into spending more time at that location, and he stopped working with us.

Still, as far as I'm concerned, call tracking is nothing but a win-win option for both us at RSVP & our clients. When we can use call tracking to help a business owner succeed, we win because we have a happy, satisfied client on our hands, and our client wins because her business is growing stronger - and that's truly life-changing.

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Contributed by Renee Pugh
ReneeWeb

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confused cat GIF source.

 

Common Advertising Complaints, Part 2: Consistency

In my previous article, I discussed how business owners' advertising fails due to their impatience and inflexible budget. In this article, I will cover the impatience factor a little more, and explain how it contributes to disappointing advertising.

Business owners are naturally impatient - they're often active, can-do people who want to get down to business immediately. While this makes them excellent business owners, it can also make them terrible advertisers. You see, advertising usually doesn't yield immediate, discernible results. It takes time for consumers to get to know your brand through your advertisements - that's why consistency is key. Consistency is the foundation of advertising.  This doesn't mean that your message in every medium you utilize should say the same thing and look the same.  Consistency in advertising means sticking with your program over a long period of time. Business owners' impatience with how fast the phone rings can cause them to pull the plug way too soon - which disrupts their advertising consistency.

Advertising builds on itself over time.  Although it may be difficult to point to something you did six months ago as the reason why you made the sale, it was precisely because you did something six months ago - and more importantly, kept at it consistently - that a prospect became a client, and other prospects will continue to do so as time goes on.  This probably seems counter-intuitive to our go-go-go business owners, who usually act promptly & decisively. They don't yet understand the importance of the buyer’s timeline.

The buyer's timeline is simple: at any point in time, your prospects are in some stage of buying your product or service. Maybe they're just beginning to think about it ("Our house will probably need a coat of paint in a couple of years," or, "Now that the kids are doing sports & piano lessons, I wish we had a service to help out with chores around the house"), or maybe they're ready to write the check right now ("The storm really did a number on our house! We need someone out here to fix the damage!").  By advertising consistently, you reach your prospect at every stage of this timeline, so that when they're ready to buy, they think of you, instead of your competition. If you're not consistently advertising over a longer period of time, you will guarantee your own failure - while your competitor who has consistently advertised will most likely reap the benefits of your impatience.

My advice to business owners is this: you are not committed to promoting your business consistently over a considerable period of time, then save your money for when you are ready for such a commitment. Otherwise, I can promise you will be severely disappointed in what happens and mistakenly believe that advertising doesn’t work.


Contributed by Jeff Vice.
Jeff