How to Tell What Customer’s Think of Your Business

We talk about providing great service, and our ten principles are our recommended guidelines to help you achieve that service.

But how do you know if you are successful?

This week we suggest an easy way to gauge your success – go online!

For starters, Yelp is the single easiest way to get quick feedback, and probably the best place for most businesses to start.

It’s common for us to think that only people who have a complaint are going to take the time to go online and write something.  But this is simply a misnomer, and if you don’t pay attention to your reviews you are missing an incredible opportunity to get quick and free feedback from your customers.  In fact, according to Yelp, over 65% are 4 star ratings or better!

This is the day of social media, and people are more connected than ever through the internet.  Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Digg, Bebo, Flickr, are all just a few examples of how people get online to share their information.

The key takeaway for our readers is the understand that it’s not all about negative information being shared.  It’s about sharing experience with friends and the greater community.

Just as Facebook has popularized the “Like” feature for readers of a post to say they like what you’ve posted, Yelp participants can “follow” one another because they find the reviews helpful and informative.

That should give you a clue – it’s word of mouth taken to the masses.  The old rule of thumb about how many people will be told about one person’s poor experience just got blown out of the park.  Anybody who has a computer can find out about that experience – positive or negative – and make a decision about trying out your business, or going to a competitor.

So, how can you use the information?

First of all, there is a lot of information that can be gleaned from the comments, no matter if it’s Yelp or some other review service.  You can take the date of the comment, read them to see if they describe the characteristics that identify when or who provided the service, and get a picture of your service delivery to see if perhaps there is a shift, person, or other indicators that appear to have a slump in your service.  You’ll want to keep an eye on that to see if you can validate a potential problem and correct it.

Second, create categories of service that the reviews address, and note if they are positive, neutral, or negative responses.  This will help you identify what you are doing right so you can reinforce that area of your service, and those that need to improve.

Third, we recommend that typically you will want to work to move the negative responses to positive ones first.  However, if you find that it should be easy to move the neutral to a positive, then take that on first.  You have a better chance to increase your overall customer satisfaction and gain repeat business with less effort.

In short, take advantage of what is free intelligence about how your business is perceived by your customers, and take action on what you find!

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