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How Should You Handle Online Customer Inquiries?

Small businesses that have an active Web site open up a lot of positive doors over time, including more interaction with customers.

On the flip side, it just takes one or a few negative comments on that site from individuals to put you on the defensive, leading you to possibly say something that could come back to haunt your company.

The big question that faces many small business owners over time that have a Web site presence is do we respond to customer concerns and complaints or do we just let them sit out there for everyone to see?

In a best case scenario, your small business does not get many complaints and does not have to react to negative commentary. If you do, however, it is always best to do it promptly and by all means professionally.

What to Look Out for With Your Web Site

In the event individuals respond to your Web site with comments that need to be addressed, take a few moments to remember these tips:

Respond within a day – If you let the comments, especially negative comments sit there for several days without a response; other individuals may believe what is being said. Responding quickly also shows you are concerned with the original author’s comments;
Keep the remarks professional – If someone is ripping your company, an employee or even you remember to respond in a professional manner. The worst thing you can do is come across as childish and petty. Stick to the facts and present your case in a clear and concise manner;
Address the good stuff too – Too often, small business owners forget to thank their customers for the good stuff, including compliments and other overtures. It just takes a minute or so to go online and say “you’re welcome” when a customer sends you a message of thanks for your products and/or services;
Review your messages regularly – Just checking your online messages once or twice a month is not going to get it done. Review the comments to your site at least once a week in order to address them promptly and prevent a buildup of remarks;
Assign proper responsibility – As the Internet age continues to grow, more small businesses are devoting time and resources to these needs. If your company doesn’t have someone or several people in place to handle online marketing matters, take the time to do so. Having one person in charge of it doesn’t hurt in that they grow familiar with the role and responsibility.

Prior to the Internet age, customers would use a good old-fashioned letter or phone call to let you know they took issue with something from your company, needed a question answered, etc.

With today’s Internet age, customers can shoot over an email or other electronic transmission and have their question or concern waiting for you just after they left your business, received a package in the mail from your company, or got off the phone with you.

As more and more consumers turn to online browsing and shopping, it is important for businesses to have an individual or individuals in place who can respond to Web site matters.

To not have such assets in place can end up leaving your small business offline.

Dave Thomas, who covers among other subjects’business credit cards, writes extensively for Business.com an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.

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