A Simple Way To Keep Bad Reviews Offline

March 4, 2011
By Lisa Barone in Reputation Management

Earlier this week I caught a post from Entrepreneur.com about cleaning up your online reputation. Curious if there’d be any good tips, I decided to give it a read. But there weren’t any tips. Instead, the article introduced me to a site called Skweal.

Hmm.

If you haven’t heard of it, Skweal is a feedback platform designed to grab user complaints before they go viral or grow to damage someone’s online reputation by keeping them offline. To leave a comment or complaint, businesses are to direct customers to visit Skweal on their smartphones where they can pick the business out from a list and post a private message. Someone on the Skweal team will then pass that customer message off to the right person at the business. To aid this process, Skweal would obviously like for businesses to register with the site, but even if they don’t, Skweal says they’ll do their best to track down an email/Twitter account/SMS. Founder Tyler Crowley also “joked” that if they can’t track down contact info for your business, they’ll just hand over the complaints to your competitor.

Ha! Funny, right? Yeah, Tyler, Seth Godin called. He wants his old social media blackmail strategy back.

But sketchiness aside, I couldn’t help but wonder if business owners really need Skweal. It seems to me they already have the exact same functionality.

Skweal = Your Web site.

Last year I was interviewed by a wedding magazine about how bridal shops could protect their online reputation. One of the tips I mentioned was giving your customers a place on your Web site to leave comments and complaints. That seems pretty logical to me. If you don’t want angry customers to head to Twitter, to their blog, to Yelp or to another public (and search-able) place to say bad things about you, then give them somewhere else to go. Create a form or an area on your Web site that serves as a dedicated place for people to leave customer feedback and then promote the heck out of it. Make sure customers know THIS is where you’d like them to go with complaints and where they’ll get the quickest response and/or resolution.

Will every angry and disgruntled customer head there first? No, probably not. But folks who really want to be heard and who want action will. And when they do head there, thank them. Because they didn’t just run to the nearest social media site. They came to you first. This gives you a fantastic opportunity to solve their issues, overwhelm them with killer customer service, and to change their experience. So don’t be an idiot and let the complaint sit there. Make it so they’re redirected to your phone or email and ACT on the complaints as soon as they come in.

Realize that you don’t need Skweal or any other site to act as the middleman between you and your customers. If social media has taught us anything, it’s that. What you do need to do is to give your customers an outlet to air their grievances. Because that’s all they really want to do. If you don’t want them to get loud on Twitter, give them somewhere else to go and promote it to all hell so that everyone knows, this is where your ears are and how they should get in touch with you.

Just my two cents.

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