Friday 22 October 2010

Seven Steps to Managing Your Online Reputation

The subtitle to this article is
"Building B&H Photo’s reputation one angry customer at a time"
and it's well worth a read.
Henry Posner, a former professional photographer started handling online customer service for B&H 15 years ago.  To judge by the ratings, he is doing this remarkably successfully and is well known on pretty much all the camera-oriented forums, blogs, ratings sites, Facebook, Twitter etc.
His seven steps are as follows - but do click through and read the full article if you have the time.
1. If a customer complains, confirm, confess and correct:
2. If you’re not at fault, calmly make your case:
3. Go the extra mile for a trying customer, but not the extra hundred miles:
4. Customers appreciate useful info, not blab:
5. Customers only think they know what they want:
6. Keep your friends close, but your competitors closer:
7. Speak softly and carry a big rep:

Thursday 21 October 2010

The Customer is King...

.....  and Customer Experience is the way to his heart.  The latest Customer Experience Report North America sponsored by RightNow has some great stats that should be taken on board by all businesses, large and small.   Topline summary:

•    82% of consumers have stopped doing business with  a company as a result of a negative experience.
•    55% became a customer of a company because of their reputation for great customer service
•    40% began purchasing from a competitive brand simply because of their reputation for great customer service
•    85% of consumers said they would be willing to pay more over the standard price in order to ensure a superior customer experience.

Of those who decided to stop doing business with an organization,
•    73% was a reaction to rude staff
•    51% reacted to unknowledgeable staff
•    55% were because of issues that weren’t resolved in a timely manner

•    79% of consumers that had a negative experience with a company told others about it.   Because….
  o    85% wanted to warn others about the pitfalls of doing business with that company
  o    66% wanted to discourage others from buying from that company
  o    55% wanted to vent anger or disappointment
  o    24% wanted to see if the company would take action to resolve their issue

•    76% of consumers said word of mouth most influenced their purchasing decisions, followed by
  o    customer reviews and online feedback at 49%,
  o    product review web sites at 41%,
  o    magazine articles at 23%
  o    reputation on social networking sites 7%.

All is not lost if a company trips up.  In today’s transparent environment, owning up to your mistake and taking action yields positive results.

•    92% of consumers said they would be willing to go back to a company after a negative experience if they ..........
•    Received a follow up apology/correction from a supervisor/head office (63%)
•    Were offered a discount (52%)
•    Or were offered proof of enhanced customer service (49%)

•    58% of respondents would like the company to respond if they left a comment on a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter.
•    But only 22% of those who actually did leave a comment on a social networking site got a response.
•    42% expect a response within a day
•    39% within a week
•    7% within an hour
•    2% within a minute

For full report see..
Presentation ppt
Site  pdf

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Latest Stats for the statisticians amongst us

58% of Americans now report that they perform online research concerning the products and services that they are considering purchasing. That is an increase from 49% vs. 2004.
The number of those who do research about products on any given day has jumped from 15% of adults in Sept 2007 to 21% in Sept 2010.
24% of American adults say they have posted comments or reviews online about the product or services they buy.
"Many Americans begin their purchasing experience by doing online research to compare prices, quality, and the reviews of other shoppers” 
“Even if they end up making their purchase in a store, they start their fact-finding and decision-making on the internet.” says Jim Jansen, Senior Fellow at the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and author of a new report about online product research.
Find full report here

Monday 11 October 2010

How Group Buying Is Changing the Retail Game & Why Reviews Matter

Everyone (including AOL last week) is jumping on the group purchasing bandwagon as Groupon, who were profitable seven months after inception, is now on track to become the fastest company to reach $1 billion in sales.
But this group buying phenomenon is also pushing businesses to improve their customer experience.  In fact, reviews and discounted buying are two very powerful strategies that result in the same implication for business.
  • Reviews drive sales, and can point to how to improve products. 
  • Discount buying sites drive sales, but require brands to become better to retain profitable customers. 
  • Both underscore that how you build your products and business matters most. 
Make your products exceptional.  
  • This will enable success on group buying sites.  And listening to customer feedback can help you get there.
Read Full Article

Friday 24 September 2010

Blackpool Hotel Owner Ejects Guests over TripAdvisor Review

It seems that hardly a day passes without angry businesses 'fighting back' against review sites and customers who write unflattering reviews about their businesses.

C'mon people, if you have a problem that you want resolved, either talk to the business directly or use a site like HelpHound who will act as an intermediary and help resolve it for you.
It will probably save you from the police being called and finding yourself thrown out on the street.
Read full article

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Negative diner reviews more damaging than critics

According to research from Livebookings, over half of diners will avoid a restaurant after seeing a bad review, with a third trusting the view of their peers over the professional critics.

David Norris, chief operating officer for Livebookings, says, “Restaurateurs can no longer dismiss the importance of the internet in shaping how their business is perceived by the general public. They must take note of the feedback they are receiving and where necessary, act on it.”
Livebookings suggests restaurants follow these steps to manage their online reviews:
  • Identify which websites your customers are posting reviews to
  • Regularly monitor the websites to see what’s being posted
  • Engage with negative reviews to show you value a customer’s comment and explain how you will address the problem
  • If you are unable to post a reply, contact the website
Read full article

HelpHound too has a variety of tools to help businesses market themselves and manage their reputation online.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Online Reviews - Reading between the lines

We like to think that HelpHound's moderators and buster software can pick up nearly all 'fake' reviews and deal with them.  Other sites however do not always work on this principle so here is are some good tips on how to spot reviews that may have been written by friends and family and public relations people.  Or by a business' competitors.

Thursday 19 August 2010

Online reviews sparks war of words

This is an extraordinary war of words between Amy's Baking Company and Joel Latondress.

He didn't like the service he got.

She didn't like the review he wrote and shot back calling him a "tramp" and a "loser"

Now, their dispute has gone way more public than Joel's short negative review with 609 comments and counting on the Phoenix New Times not to mention comments on countless blogs, twitter polls etc. etc.

Phoenix New Times
Be sure to read through the comments to see all of the slings and arrows being exchanged.
Matthew Petrow

Wednesday 18 August 2010

The Indignant Diner Who Went Too Far

A Web Campaign to Smear the Mussel Bar.

A diner who goes by the handle, “Anna” (or sometimes “Anu”) has been strafing the landscape with essentially the same comment. She has posted it on Zagat, Urbanspoon, CultureMob, Metrocurean, Yelp (where it’s been filtered), and even our, (the Washington City Paper's) little blog. Here’s the gist of it:
The food is ok..overpriced yes but ok. The reason for low rating is the service we received from none other than restaurant manager and owner.
 I plan on telling everyone about how little he thinks of his patrons. I am also a writer so you can bet this is what’s on my mind and where my writing energies will go.
And so she did.  Read full story

Wouldn't have happened had she'd been in the UK and posted on HelpHound because Resolution™would have given the business the opportunity to respond before she was able to post her negative review

Defining your Social Media Strategy

Need help defining your social media strategy?
Well, this gadget will do it for you.  Try it out.
Or come speak with us

Full article from Business Insider

How To Use Customer Reviews To Market Your Business

This is a well written, 'must read'  article from Gail Goodman for anyone interesting in marketing their businesss. She keeps it simple and down to earth and gives great advice.

Increasingly, consumers are searching for reviews before they commit their dollars to buying products, booking services or donating to a charity. They want to read a positive review or comment, expressed in your customers' own words.
Sharing customer success stories demonstrates how you deliver on your brand promise in the real world, with real people. A positive customer review resonates in a way that other marketing efforts just can't. It conveys more than honesty.....
 She goes on to offer 9 tips for businesses to get and use great reviews for their businesses
1.    Make it easy for customers to give great reviews
2.    Find out where your customers are already posting reviews
3.    Ask for reviews across multiple channels
4.    Survey customers after a sale
5.    Note: Customers must give these reviews freely
6.    Spread the word and get more people talking
7.    Post success stories wherever you promote your products and services
8.    Customer-centric stories make compelling content
9.    Listen to what customers are saying about you (the good and the bad)

 Full Article

Tuesday 17 August 2010

The customer knows best

Every interaction with a customer should be an opportunity to improve your business, Paul Holstein, vice president and chief operating officer of, said at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in a session entitled “How to borrow customers’ ideas and look like a genius.”
“The customer is telling you exactly how to make your company better,” he said. “All you have to do is listen.”

The problem, however, is that most consumers don’t bother to call customer service. Instead they just abandon the site. In fact, only one customer out of every 100 who experiences a problem will alert a retailer. “Many people experience problems on a site,” he said. “Of those, maybe half stay on the site. Of those, only a few will inform you of the problem.”

That means that retailers need to listen to customers, including when consumers leave comments on blogs and or on consumer reviews sites like

Retailers should also pay heed to indirect signs that something is askew, such as many failed site searches. “Failed site searches are indirectly telling you that you don’t carry what they’re looking for,” Holstein said.

Those types of indirect signs also include measures like bounce rates, which gauge how often shoppers leave after viewing one page of a site, he added.

The easiest way to understand what needs to be changed, Holstein said, is to directly ask consumers., for example, has a box, “Can we improve something on this page?” on nearly every page. That box generates 10 to 15 suggestions a day, including valuable questions like “Why don’t you carry a manufacturer’s new line?” or comments such as “You have a typo on your site.”

“Those types of insights can help you adjust your site to make you look like a genius,” he said.
Source: Internet Retailer

If you don’t have anything nice to say, post a review instead

This article about marketing to women has great advice to businesses on how to deal with unhappy customers.

Deal with it by getting smart.
1) Take a deep breath and remember that unhappy customers can become your biggest fans and most vocal evangelists if you respond quickly and work earnestly to fix the problem.
Turn an unsatisfied customer into a very happy one and guess what happens. She’s got a great story that will be told again and again and again. And guess who’s the hero? You are. The word of mouth that results is the stuff branding director’s dreams are made of.
2) Find another way to solicit honest feedback. Face -to-face is uncomfortable for most people and is particularly tough for women who are literally hard-wired as gatherers to keep the village working together. So make it easy for people to give their reviews anonymously (if they choose) and on their own schedule.  Allow for ratings and reviews on your site.
3) Ask for opinions in YOUR voice. Don’t just send a standardized “your feedback is valuable to us” missive with an equally canned survey. Let your brand personality and EARNEST desire to do a better job ooze from every detail.
Consider that even your email asking for their feedback is a form of marketing on your part. Work it.
4) Act on what you learn.

Bad reviews are a roadmap for getting better.  The tools for listening to consumers are there.
We’re just not acting on them.

Read full article

The Power of Reviews 3

According to a survey by business management consultants Deloitte LLP,  when it comes to online product reviews across all web sites, 51% say that an online review has influenced their decision to make a purchase and 50% say a review helped persuade them not to buy.
Read full article

The Power of Reviews 2

If you sell TVs or consumer packaged goods (CPGs), you’d better keep an eye on what customers are saying about you on product review Websites: According to a study of nearly 1,500 consumers by Epsilon, those sites are the most influential source of buying information for shoppers.
Product review sites were almost the most influential source for shoppers looking to book a hotel or sign up with some sort of communication service, according to the survey. People shopping for phones, computers, and credit cards, however, relied more on family and friends, while those in the market for auto insurance said that brand Websites were most influential.
Read full article on Direct Magazine

Beware the websavvy moms

When Melissa Garcia was frustrated by Old Navy's scanty coupon offerings, she didn't just complain to the store. She vented on a message board tied to her blog, which is read by at least 30,000 people each month and now, increasingly, by corporate America.
Within weeks, chatter in the so-called mommy blogosphere led Gap's Old Navy stores to begin issuing coupons several times a week, instead of just once a week.
When mad moms blog, stores listen
Read full story

Make your gripe heard

I treated my daughter and son-in-law to lunch. The appetizer was scanty and lukewarm. A side order didn't show up until after we'd finished eating. Our glasses remained empty even as we spied the waiter sitting and chatting.

Printed on the check was a "How'd we do?" survey. I filled it out.
Two days later, a manager called to apologize -- and to offer $50 worth of gift cards.
Sometimes it pays to complain.
"They cannot fix the problem if they don't know about it," Tschohl says. "You're doing the company a huge favor if you complain."

Best Practices for Responding to Online Hotel Reviews

As a hotel manager, when a guest comes to the front desk to register a complaint, do you: 
1) look busy;
2) skulk out the back door; or
3) handle the matter personally?
Not that difficult a question, is it? 

Then why do only 4% of negative reviews on TripAdvisor get a response? 
Daniel Edward Craig, a former hotel general manager turned consultant gives his views on how to respond to online hotel reviews

This is a summary
  • Respond to any feedback that is damaging to your hotel’s reputation, even if simply to acknowledge the issue and apologize.
  • Respond to positive reviews occasionally to show you’re listening, but don’t feel obliged to reply to each one.
  • Responses should come from the highest level - but not necessarily from the owners themselves. “As a rule I discourage hotel owners from responding. They have too much at stake and aren’t always as diplomatic as managers.”
  • Respond as soon as possible - the longer a complaint is left to fester, the more business it will drive away. Just make sure you have all the facts and the response is thorough.

Monday 16 August 2010

Gordon Ramsey on Customer Relationship Management

Watch this...

The Power of Reviews

Blue Cedar's take on what to do about Review Sites.
I think we would wholeheartedly agree.

 More and more consumers rely review sites during their purchasing decision making process.

What should your company do about these directories?
  • Be there. As consumers rely more heavily on review sites and local directories, not being present can cause you to be overlooked. List your business with the national  ones –the ones we’ve mentioned, plus HotFrog, Brown Book, and, among others – and then track down the ones specifically for your local community. If you’re not primarily a local business (for example, you do e-commerce), you can still benefit from local listings. It’s a link to your website, after all.
  • Register or claim your business. In many cases, only those businesses that register or claim their listings can respond to reviews, add a link to their website, and in other ways have some control over the listing. Brown Book lets you upload videos and other content. Yelp lets you communicate with those who leave reviews. Merchant Circle hosts a blog for you. Explore the options.
  • Encourage happy customers to review your business. Trying to game the system by posting fake reviews will backfire, but asking customers to support you is smart.  Train staff to respond to compliments with, “I’m so glad you liked it! Would you write that at Yelp?”
  • Respond to unhappy reviews. You can’t please everyone, but a kind and helpful response can turn a bad review into a good opportunity to show your excellent customer service.  Calm down, if you need to, before you make your response.
  • Quote the good reviews. People who’ve made public comments about your company have already shown that they’re willing to share their opinions. Use the things they’ve said as testimonials online and in your marketing materials.
  • Watch your analytics. Keep track, with whatever kind of web analytics you use, of the kind of traffic that comes to your site from directories. That information can help you make decisions about advertising and future linkbuilding.
    Full Article

The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth, So Help Your Reputation

An interesting commentary on the state of Reputation on the internet by  Travis Kalanic, with one marvellous observation

 "...a reputation site that has a bad reputation itself 
is worthless"

See full article

The Truth About Online Reputation Management

Mitch Joel writes,
"There's no difference between what's being said online and in the "real world."
In fact, let's call a moratorium on the separation of the two... because that no longer exists. If someone tells you about a brand, product or service, what's your first action at that point in time? You do an online search (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Twitter, whatever...). You don't run down to a retail store to look for yourself, and you don't call up an office and ask for more information ("can you please mail me your corporate brochure?"). You look to see what is being said about the brand online (by them, their competitors and your peers). Positive, negative or neutral, that is your first brand interaction...."
Most people have their first brand interaction at a search box.    More...

Goodbye cruel world, I’m moving to the internet

In cyberspace you can erase people, in the real world you’d have to murder them
A light take on the internet from Caitlin Moran.  More....

Sunday 15 August 2010

Many European companies have started their customer experience journey.

In a survey of 53 Western European firms with annual income of over $150 million, 47 of the respondents said that customer experience was either critical or very important to their firm’s 2010 strategy.  Three-quarters of the respondents said that there company is trying to differentiate itself with customer experience.
Yet only 6% of the respondents said that they had a very disciplined approach to customer experience management.    More...

How word-of-mouth fuels e-mail campaigns

 Customer reviews and other forms of word of mouth make great fodder for e-mail campaigns.
International apparel brand Boden crafted a post-purchase e-mail that went to each customer upon placing an online order with direct links to review submission forms and in four months, 90% of Boden's products had been reviewed. 
eSpares, the UK's largest appliance spare parts retailer, found that a link to customer reviews in e-mails outperformed all other links in its e-mail, including other text-based links and a “buy now” button. In addition, incremental traffic to the Web site from the “read reviews” link ended up generating additional revenue, 2.5 times that sold through the “buy now” button.
Urban Outfitters took customer reviews and personas one step further.....   More

Trust and the art of corporate transparency

In the internet age, opinions aren't hard to come by. Bloggers, celebs, experts, journalists, total strangers - they're all on hand to let you know what they think. But who do you trust?

This is an ad feature for firstdirect bank but it's survey confirms that good reviews are worth their weight in gold and it is important to manage negative feedback.  More...

Beware the websavvy artist

'The artist in question is HiddenEloise, a British independent artist who sells artwork via Etsy and other independent online stores. Discovering that Paperchase had allegedly stolen and "badly traced" one of her unique designs, she contacted the stationery company to ask for the artwork to be removed from their shops and Amazon. Not only has Paperchase ignored her, but it is now selling even more products featuring the plagiarised artwork.'
Realising that contacting the lawyers would result in astronomically high legal fees that she simply couldn't afford ($40,000 for court expenses), HiddenEloise instead took to her blog, accusing Paperchase of plagiarism, and asking readers to contact the stationery firm directly.
This blog post was subsequently tweeted by the English science fiction author, Neil Gaiman. With his approximately 1.5 million followers, it's unsurprising that the story was quickly gathered momentum on Twitter and was subsequently retweeted thousands of of times. It is now one of Twitter's top 10 trending topics, which spells trouble for Paperchase.   More
Play the Hidden Eloise video here


 I love being reviewed, either way. Then, of course, there’s Yelp…
As long as I have been picking up the phones, I have received calls from Yelp salespeople offering me sweet deals in which my rating would go up, my negatives would go down, and special “Elites” would come review me favorably if only I signed up for a $300/m sponsorship.  More...

There is a grown up alternative you know...

Beware the websavvy customer

When customer service fails, today's consumers take things into their own hands and the results can be disasterous.

This one ran and ran and was featured on multiple sites and in multiple publications.
Don't get caught in that trap.
Read the full story
And this
This is precisely what HelpHound is set up for.  To avoid negative feedback going viral

Hotels fight back, sort of...

 BRITAIN'S hotel industry is getting increasingly agitated by the power wielded by online review sites. So says the Independent, in light of TripAdvisor’s recently released “dirtiest hotel” rankings. Hotels complain that there is no way of knowing if the writer of an online review is a genuine guest as opposed to a mischief-maker.
More...   from the Economist
More...   from the New York Times

What to do?
Quite simple, speak to HelpHound about Resolution™ 

Saturday 14 August 2010

The Brand, Reputation Management & how they are connected

Everything Jeremy Clarkson said about it is right, however I won't be buying another one if I have to deal with Stratstone, their staff are so miserable when you go into the showroom its unreal.

Don’t wait till it’s to late.
Get on top of your reputation management, listen and learn it could save and make you a fortune.

Monday 17 May 2010

Saw this cartoon on Ranked Hard  - but of course we think 'who needs the Yellow Pages when you have HelpHound'.

Friday 7 May 2010

Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web

Have you been wondering how using 'Twitter' could enhance your business?  You may want to start by reading the following abbreviated excerpt from Engage, a new book that helps businesses build, cultivate, and measure success in social media :
 Last year, Forbes magazine assembled a visual list for its Top 21 Twitter Tips to showcase business examples on how to use Twitter for marketing, service, sales, and ideation. The original compilation served as inspiration for a new list, one that helps businesses of all shapes, sizes, and focus embrace not only Twitter, but all social networks of relevance.

While many of the examples and quotes remain the same, the list is modified based on my observations and personal experiences.

Thursday 29 April 2010

Unhappy Customers Gain Google Ranking

This article highlights how just one 'negative' review can quickly go viral, damaging the reputation of a company almost overnight, if a unhappy customer doesn't get a satisfactory response to their complaint within a reasonable time frame.  


Answer? Try these phrase searches on Google, and you’ll be brought here.

The ongoing blog post about the Kwik Fit deathtrap car blog (another popular Google search phrase at the moment) has reached great heights – more than 100 hits per day, with numerous comments on the blog post itself and the anti-fan page on Facebook.

Thursday 15 April 2010

ChannelAdvisor Catalyst: 10 real life consumers

 It is interesting to read in this article on that 6 of the 10 consumers on this particular panel used review sites but none of them had written a review.

 One of my favourite sessions at ChannelAdvisor Catalyst is the consumer panel. 10 real life consumers who are chosen at random are given no briefing on the Catalyst event tell where they buy online, what makes them use a particular site, and answer questions from retailers attending the conference. In no particular order other than as they were raised here’s some of the comments from the panel.

Friday 9 April 2010

Your Brand in their Hands

Was reading Simon Mainwaring's blog on his 'Top Ten Digital Trends for 2010" and found number ten of particular interest as it shows the importance of keeping a careful watch on what your customers are saying about you on line and responding to both positive and negative comments:
Combine the trends of social media, real time search, location sharing services and augmented reality, and it’s easy to see how digital marketing is increasingly being exercised in partnership with consumers. With data, tools and networks being accessible everywhere, consumers can interact with each other in ways of their choosing that can make or break a brand. As such the most effective digital marketing with invite contribution and celebrate participation by consumers.

Thursday 1 April 2010

Tim Norman on ‘What the customer wants’

Good article on 'ReputationOnline' by Tim Norman, sales director of Northern Europe at SDL Web Content Management Solutions, on how bands are embracing social networking to engage with their customers:

"Online customer engagement has become one of the hottest topics of the last 12 months for marketing departments of all businesses, while social media and web 2.0 tools have been heralded as the gateway for attracting and retaining customers.  These multiple channels of customer engagement are seen as the holy grail of successful business.

Yet online marketing strategies and techniques still seem to be falling short of consumer expectations.

Rating A Place Of Worship: Is It The Pious Thing To Do?

This story by Jessica Alpert on caught my attention and I am wondering whether our members would recommend their places of worship on HelpHound?  Let us know.....

"When I told a few friends that I was working on a piece about online church reviews, they looked at me blankly.  Yeah?  At least for some people, reviewing a sermon or a congregation online seems perfectly reasonable.  But as I started talking to people around the country, I found a significant percentage who could not be more horrified by the trend.

Creating business-wide content engagement strategies to increase long term customer value

Was interested to read that  61% of client and 57% of agency respondents believe that intolerance for poor customer service would increase over the next 12 months in this article by Clare O’Brien a member of the cScape Customer Engagement Unit and co-founder of CDA
So much energy in online marketing and customer engagement is focused on building customer relationships for acquisition that the place where the real relationships are fixed or broken – customer services/customer support/account management/member services – is often sidelined at the planning and resourcing stage. Whatever it’s called, it’s the point at which the often expensively acquired customer is handed over to another part of the organisation.

Good Transparency: Modern Retail

Everyone in the HelpHound office just loved this video from Transparency:

More and more of our shopping is happening online. And in the digital marketplace, shoppers write and read millions of reviews each year, transforming the way we make buying decisions—and how companies make their products. Welcome to the information-saturated world of internet retail.