Social media has given everyone a voice – a single piece of positive or negative feedback can make or break your business. Therefore, it’s vital to build brand advocacy among your target audience, so more people speak positively about your brand and help you grow your loyal customer base.
A brand advocate or brand ambassador used to be defined as someone famous who supports a brand through television or print advertisements. But today, first-hand experiences (usually expressed through online reviews) are valued as more authentic and honest forms of brand advocacy.
However, you can’t control your customer sentiment entirely. While having unhappy customers is normal, they can’t be ignored. Showing your existing and potential customers you care by knowing and addressing their concerns is vital to increase customer satisfaction.
In this blog post, we discuss:
• What is a brand advocate?
• Why your loyal customers are some of your best brand ambassadors
• How to turn customers into brand advocates
We also detail how to deal with an unhappy customer and how to respond to bad reviews to equip you to increase customer satisfaction and increase customer loyalty in the process.
What Is a Brand Advocate?
A brand advocate or brand ambassador is a person who actively recommends a product, service or company to other people. Examples of brand ambassadors include your past or current customers who speak well of their experience with you (online and in-person) or people like social media influencers who use their platform to connect with their followers.
Why You Need Brand Advocates
Everybody needs social proof, especially before making a purchase – it’s reassuring to know that someone else has done what you’re considering and had a positive outcome. What’s more, people talking positively about you reflects positively on your customer experience and is likely to increase customer loyalty in the long run.
Brand advocacy can also:
• Increase brand exposure: You tap into your brand advocate’s network, which probably consists of people you haven’t reached before.
• Introduce a new source of revenue: People will patronize you and become your customer simply because they trust your brand ambassador.
• Improve your online reputation: Positive feedback usually comes in the form of 5-star reviews, which are critical to your sales and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. A 2020 Trustpilot study revealed that about 89 percent of consumers read reviews before buying products, so you want to make sure they see good reviews.
But not everyone will be a brand advocate…
Indeed, you can’t please everyone, and you’re bound to get unhappy customers every now and then. Their negative comments can affect your trust ratings or, worse, go viral on social media and snowball quickly. But there are steps you can take to improve their experiences and protect your brand’s image.
How To Deal With an Unhappy Customer
Your unhappy customers probably had a negative experience or didn’t agree with certain things about your company. These customers usually express their dissatisfaction through an online review. But don’t worry, this isn’t anything too serious – people are skeptical when a business has only positive reviews, and the occasional criticism is healthy too. So while you shouldn’t underestimate a negative review, you can certainly prevent things from escalating and make the best of the situation.
Here is an overview of how to deal with unhappy customers:
✔ Make things right
✔ React harshly
Keeping these in mind will help you understand the steps involved in how to turn customers into brand advocates.
Creating Brand Advocates Out of Your Unhappy Customers
The good news is that creating brand advocates out of disgruntled customers is 100 percent possible. It can even influence purchase decisions more than a typical customer review – having positive feedback is great, but turning around a negative experience is beyond impressive.
How to turn your unhappy customers into brand ambassadors:
STEP 1: Apologize
Just a simple apology can increase customer satisfaction, and this is what you should start with. Address the person by their name because the last thing your customer wants is a templated response. People are quick to sense a “non-apology apology,” such as, “We’re sorry you feel that way,” so be sure to apologize sincerely.
STEP 2: Acknowledge the Fault
Next, you should express that you understood what went wrong – an apology with nothing to back it up doesn’t make your customer feel heard. If you’ve confirmed a mistake was made, a straightforward acknowledgment should follow the apology. Otherwise, it’s enough to be sorry that their experience did not align with what your business stands for.
STEP 3: Commit to Preventing Similar Instances
Studies show that most customers leave negative feedback to “save” other customers from the same experience. While you can’t promise it won’t happen again, you can guarantee you will take steps to prevent it from happening again. Make a verbal commitment to take their concern seriously.
STEP 4: Offer a Resolution
Making it right with your unhappy customers is the best way to safeguard your reputation. The solution is sometimes monetary compensation, fixing what went wrong or making a change in your process – but it’s never standard. What’s important is to take action and do the best you can for every customer.
STEP 5: Nurture the Relationship
Expressing your commitment to improve customer experience requires a proactive approach. You want unhappy customers to know you are responsive not because they had a bad experience, but because you always care about your customers. They won’t become a brand advocate because of an apology and a one-time resolution. Instead, following through on your promises and staying in touch with them is how you can turn them into brand advocates.
Nearly 90 percent of customers will give a business two chances before walking away (Corra), so trying to turn your disgruntled customers into brand advocates is absolutely worth it.
Expert-Approved Tips on How To Respond to Bad Reviews
Since creating brand advocates depends on how you speak to and interact with the customer after their negative experience, improving your review response strategy is essential. For instance, you need to align your team on how to respond to bad reviews to ensure you won’t lose a customer because of a poor review response.
How to respond to negative reviews the right way:
1. Respond Quickly
You need to provide a review response as soon as possible to build trust among your audience. About 53 percent of customers expect you to respond to a negative review within seven days, and 45 percent are more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews (ReviewTrackers).
2. Take Caution
Only promise things you will follow through on because not doing so could have worse repercussions than the initial negative review. Also, experts advise against including your company name in your review response to avoid it from showing up in search results. Lastly, be very wary about exposing your customer’s private information.
3. Continue The Conversation Offline
Taking the conversation offline is best – you can freely talk without compromising your customer’s privacy, you avoid being misinterpreted or taken out of context and you can engage them on a deeper level to understand and resolve their concerns. Unfortunately, most review platforms don’t allow you to contact the reviewer privately, but you can leave your contact information and request them to reach out to you.
Get the Help of an Online Reputation Management Company
Because anyone (at any time) can influence the public’s opinion of your business, it’s essential to stay updated with your customer sentiment and make a plan to improve customer experience continuously. With the right online review and reputation management strategy, your customer’s negative experiences can turn into learning opportunities and even marketing wins for your business.
Rize Reviews is an online reputation management company helping businesses improve their brand image. Our reputation management software makes increasing positive customer reviews and monitoring for negative feedback simple. With our review response and online reputation repair services, you can catch, respond to and address negative feedback immediately.
We help you build brand advocacy by applying best practices on how to respond to negative reviews, enabling you to dig deep into your customer sentiment and helping you create a cycle of improvement.
Contact Rize Reviews to learn more about how our review response and online reputation repair services help you improve customer experience and win more brand advocates.