How do you find the Jar Jar Binks of your company — that thing that's driving away clients without your knowing about it? Use our 5 tips to discover what people are saying about your business and find out what you could improve for better reviews.
The newest Star Wars movies come out soon, and saying we’re excited is an understatement. It’s not unusual to hear Stuckey and Jimmy battling it out with Star Wars impressions in the Support Department, Amber has her army of Star Wars t-shirts ready to go, and even those of us who don’t wear our fandom on our sleeves are looking forward to seeing what J.J. Abrams and Disney are cooking up for the upcoming movies.
Our feeling of Star Wars excitement feels like déjà vu, because lots of us felt the same way in 1999, 2002, and 2005 when the prequels were released. Those movies had their high points too, of course (Yoda’s lightsaber battles, Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan, etc.), but they had some disappointments as well. And the most, well, jarring disappointment from those movies? A little Gungan outcast named Jar Jar Binks.
The character of Jar Jar ruined Star Wars for some people: They said his voice was irritating. They said he was a caricature. They said his dialogue tried too hard to be funny and and ruined the scenes where he appeared. Attack blogs were written. Entire scenes were smeared and written off. We’re sure the hashtags would’ve been horrendous, if hashtags had existed at the time.
We think George Lucas made a mistake introducing Jar Jar (he, apparently, disagrees), but we also have the benefit of hindsight to assist in criticizing his character development. It’s easy to point fingers from our side of the box office, but we’re all prone to making the same mistake — missing one key factor of our businesses that isn’t an important issue to us but is so irritating to our customers that it turns people away and means we actually lose business.
But if we’re blind to some of the things that irritate our clients, how do we discover what they are? How do we find our own Jar Jar Binkses and cut them out of our companies before they drive away clients? Luckily, we already have a tool for finding out what people say about our businesses behind our backs, and it’s totally free. Ladies and gentleman, I bring you … the Internet. Chances are, your customers are already talking about your company online — and if you have a Jar Jar-style problem, they’re probably mentioning it. They key is to make sure you’re listening: Here’s how you do it.
Listen when clients are talking to you: Check your own social media replies
Lots of us set up social media accounts, but we leave them inactive and forget about them. Even when we regularly post to our accounts, it can be easy to forget to check @replies, hashtags about your company and direct messages. Be sure you or your social media manager knows to stay up-to-date with reading and responding to all social media messages, and to pass on problems and concerns to the corresponding department. Take those concerns seriously, because for every customer who takes to Twitter to complain, there are probably more clients who have the same problem but, instead of saying something about it, quietly take their business elsewhere.
See what strangers see: Google your company with universal search
Googling your own company to see what search results come up seems so basic and easy — and it is. But this step is so simple that many of us forget to do it. Are you coming up in search results in the position you’re hoping for? Are customers leaving positive or negative blogs and comments about your business? Frequent Google searches will show you what others see when they search for your company, and that information can be quite valuable. Remember that, when you search on your own computer, your results will be skewed based on sites you’ve visited before. (For example, my site, carrierollwagen.com, is a number one search result on my laptop partly because I’ve been to the site so much.) One way to get a better idea of actual search results for your area is to open an Incognito Window (called a Private Window in Firefox or Safari) using the menu at the top right corner of your browser. These results won’t be totally unbiased because they do factor in your general location, but they won’t be based on your previous search history.
You might also try actively weeding out your company’s haters by Googling terms like “[your company here] sucks,” “I hate [your company here],” “stay away from [your company here],” or “[your company here] ripoff” to see if any bad reviews appear in the results. (Warning: Googling these terms is tougher than it sounds! I just typed “I hate Carrie Rollwagen” into search results, and although, luckily, nothing bad appeared, I was definitely worried.)
Hear when people mention you: Set a Google alert for your company
Using Gmail to set up a Google alert is free and easy — just pick a phrase you’d like to search for (enter your company’s name and common variations of it) and activate the search (here are instructions for activating a Google alert). Whenever Google indexes a mention of your company online, you’ll get an email with a link to the mention. This is a great way to keep up with customers who write good things about you, and it’s an easy way to find out about online issues early and stop those problems before they become bigger.
Listen to the critics: Check Yelp, Google Reviews, Zomato, Glassdoor and any other relevant review site
Review sites have become a great way for people to leave honest feedback about companies they love and hate, but they can also be a way for disgruntled customers to take out their aggression on your company in a way that might not be fair or even true. Create accounts on review sites so you can log in and check how your company fairs in reviews. Resist the urge to defend your business, though — defensiveness looks bad on review sites. If you read a bad review, try to respond calmly and solve the problem if you can.
Ask for feedback: Request reviews through email
Not seeing enough feedback, or not getting good feedback from Google searches and reviews? Try soliciting feedback straight from your clients. Use your email list to send a simple request to let you know how you’re doing. If the feedback is good, great! But this chance might be just the opportunity a slightly unhappy customer has been looking for to let you know about a business problem. Reaching out to help before the problem grows could be the difference between losing and keeping a customer.