Improving on customer support and reducing bad experiences are two things that all businesses strive to do. Victoria Rossi, Managing Editor at Software Advice, recently wrote an article about tactics companies are using to successfully intercept or deflect negative online reviews. “Honest feedback can be a great way to help a business grow and improve, even when it’s negative,” Rossi says. “But when that feedback appears online, it can also really hurt companies. The companies and experts I spoke with had some great feedback-gathering tools to help keep customer complaints in-house, so that owners and managers can make preventative adjustments before complaints get to social review sites.”
To keep complaints off social media, where they will stay forever, Ms. Rossi suggests making it very easy for customers to complain directly to you. This makes a lot of sense and is one of the reasons companies are deploying customer community forums. Here's how a customer forum can help:
1- With a community, you "own" the platform. When a customer complains on your community, you have more options when dealing with the complaint: you can deal with the affected user publicly or privately through direct message. You can mark resolved, 'sink', or if need be, delete a complaint once it's been dealt with. You also don't need to worry about character limits, so you can take all the words you need to solve the problem.
2- The community can pitch in to help. A community is filled with people with the same vested interest in your product. Many of these members may have faced similar issues in the past and will be inclined to help in a collaborative environment. The collective experience of sharing with peers can be more rewarding than a ballistic rant in front of friends, family or colleagues on social networks. In a strong helpful community, they are also likely to get suggestions almost right away, even before your support staff has a chance.
3- A community might reduce problems in the first place. Most customer problems are not new. A community is a dynamic knowledge base where people can quickly find solutions to their problems or see that someone else had the same issue and had it resolved. A community can head off problems and deflect tickets from your support queue.
While a community is not always 100% effective in deflecting negative reviews from other social channels, it can be a very powerful tool as part of a strategy to support your business and your customers.
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