Michael Reynolds, CEO of Spinweb
Michael Reynolds

Guest blogger, and Ruby clientMichael Reynolds is President/CEO of SpinWeb, a professional website design, website development, and online marketing firm located in the beautiful city of Indianapolis, Indiana. SpinWeb specializes in non-profit website design and corporate website design, as well as content marketing strategies. Michael is also an Internet marketing speaker and gives regular presentations on marketing, technology, and social media. Michael loves tennis, sushi, and all things Apple.

Running a business means opening your brand, your team, and yourself to scrutiny. As a business owner, your goal is to serve your customers, make them happy, and be profitable.

Social media allows your customers to connect with you in ways that were not possible before. With the click of a mouse or a smart phone, your customers can send you real-time feedback on how you are doing. What is even more significant is the fact that they can also share their opinions with hundreds, or even thousands of people at once.

Scary? Perhaps. But smart business owners will see this as an opportunity to improve service, strengthen the company’s brand, and increase loyalty.

So what do you do when a customer gives you feedback via Twitter or Facebook, or your blog?

Respond.

A common theme in social media is “your customers will talk about you whether you are there or not.” Just because you are not actively using social media does not mean your customers won’t talk about you. If you are actively engaged, however, you will have the opportunity to respond. When a customer give you feedback by posting a comment on your blog, Facebook page, or Twitter account, it’s important to respond and show that there is a real person behind the brand. If you don’t, it makes your company look disengaged and apathetic. Be sure to monitor your brand online to keep track of who is talking about you.

Tell your team about it.

When you get positive feedback via social media, not only is it important to respond, but it’s also a great idea to let your team know. It feels good to get positive feedback from your customers and helps your team see that the work they are doing pays off and is makes your customers happy. On the flip side, if you get negative feedback, use it as an opportunity to help your team see what areas of your business need improvement.

Take the high road.

It’s always frustrating to get negative feedback, especially in social media where everyone can see it. Though it can be tempting to fight back and express your frustration publicly, this almost always ends in disaster, as Nestle found out last year. Always respond with a polite, professional tone and keep the discussion focused on the issue. Try to figure out what has made your customer upset and do whatever you can to fix the issue. Even if it’s not your fault, remain calm and continue to work toward resolving the problem. Never personally attack a customer or use sarcasm to respond to negative feedback. Stay positive and your company will look professional and helpful, which will earn you goodwill.

Hiding from customer feedback in social media is not really a viable option, so it’s a good idea to embrace the idea and participate as much as possible. Be ready to respond, reward your team for positive feedback, and understand how to handle negative feedback. Remember, thousands of people are potentially watching every conversation between you and your customers on social media so a positive and professional approach will strengthen your brand and may just grow your business, as well.