Exactly how important is your reputation in the modern digital world that we’re now living in? In a word, very. Consider the fact that according to one recent study, a full 90 percent of consumers say that they read online reviews before they even consider visiting a business. Additionally, online reviews tend to impact roughly 67.7 percent of purchasing decisions. To top it all off, 84 percent of people who responded to one recent survey said that they trust online reviews just as much — if not more — than personal recommendations.
As a cloud solutions provider, you’re already dealing with an audience that is more tech-savvy than most, which can be either a good or bad thing depending on how well you run the company. These are the people who are very likely to take to the internet and tell everyone they know when they’re satisfied — and who will somehow find a way to tell even more people when they’re not.
But all hope is not lost. Reputation management is alive and well in the 21st century, and as a forward-thinking cloud solutions provider, there are a few key things you should know.
1. It’s not about addressing feedback; it’s about how you address feedback
Perhaps the most important thing to understand about reputation management as a CSP is that no matter how hard you try, you’re going to receive both positive and negative feedback. When those negative reviews or social media complaints do come rolling in, the biggest mistake you can make is to pretend they’re not there. The second biggest mistake you can make is to pretend that someone’s legitimate problem isn’t a problem at all.
You and your employees need to get into the habit of addressing all feedback, not only consistently but transparently as well. If there’s been a misconception, do what you can to clear it up. If someone has a legitimate problem, do whatever you can to fix the issue and make it right. Don’t attempt to sweep anything under the proverbial rug, because one thing the internet community does not do is forget.
2. The art of social media monitoring
Over the last decade or so, the vast majority of conversations that people are having aren’t just taking place online — they’re taking place in real time on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. As a CSP that is truly concerned about your own reputation, one of the most important steps that you can take involves monitoring those channels for mentions of your company all day, every day, no question.
Remember that not only does a failure to respond to complaints or concerns via social media channels often lead to a 15 percent customer churn rate according to one study, but fewer than 3 percent of customers actually use the @ feature on Twitter when discussing a brand. Both of these are issues you can address by taking a more proactive approach to your social media monitoring.
Ultimately, this will serve two purposes. First, it lets you see what conversations people are having, thus identifying opportunities for you to contribute in meaningful ways. If someone does have a legitimate complaint, you don’t have to wait for the customer to come to you to address it; you can cut right to the heart of the matter before a small problem becomes a much bigger one down the road.
3. The importance of employee training
Along the same lines, you should also invest in training for all of your employees regarding the ways in which they’re interacting with customers. You need to address how those interactions are taking place on social media channels or on your website, but you also need to make sure that the experience offered across all of those channels is as consistent as humanly possible.
To the first point, consider the fact that not only have 66 percent of global customers stopped doing business with a particular company or service provider in the past 12 months due to a poor customer service experience, but when companies do focus on making customer service a social media priority, people tend to spend upwards of 20 to 40 percent more with that company. Of those two scenarios, which is the one that you would rather be in?
To the second point, this level of consistency helps make sure that all customers are getting the same quality, satisfying experience regardless of how they’re choosing to interact with your brand. Whether they’re picking up the phone to give you a call or sending you a message on Facebook doesn’t matter; they’re going to get the same satisfying response no matter what. This alone will go a long way toward making sure that your reputation as a CSP is a strong one.
4. We all do the best we can
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, one of the biggest ways that you can take control of your own reputation management is to acknowledge your mistakes and make an effort to learn from them. When you’re talking about something that is as inherently malleable (and volatile) as a cloud-based solution, mistakes are going to happen. Even the largest cloud providers in the world don’t guarantee a true 100 percent uptime, after all.
But the ultimate key to improving your reputation rests not in your ability to prevent mistakes but in your ability to learn from them and use those lessons to become a better provider tomorrow than you were today. Thanks to social media, review sites, online support forums, and other sources, your audience essentially has a direct line of communication with you and your brand 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Yes, it can be overwhelming, but it also represents the type of genuine, honest learning opportunity that you just can’t put a price on.
Make an effort to not only learn from your mistakes, but show people that you’re doing so by way of social media posts or your blog. If you’re making a raw, earnest effort to make improvements and to welcome constructive criticism, rest assured that your audience is going to notice.