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Archive for November, 2021

Humanising the Digital Experience

November 30th, 2021 by Heather Maloney

Zoom meeting after Teams meeting, click and collect, no choice but to buy online, bots to answer your questions, layers of IVR questions to call through to the right department … they can all lead to absence of humanity in your interactions with organisations. Absence of humanity can lead to disengagement.

After many months of lockdown, people are starved of human interaction.

We are all using technology to support our organisations and businesses, in many beneficial ways. It is vital that we add to our humanity, not diminish it, in the process.

Humanising digital technology

One result of being starved of human contact is an overcompensation, whereby you attempt to be constantly connected to what is going on everywhere.

Constant Partial Attention … it’s a Thing!

How many Zoom meetings have you attended where most people are just a tile with their name (full name if you are lucky) written on it? They never ask a question – including in the chat – or show their faces. How does it make you feel?

Constant Partial Attention (CPA) is where a person is constantly scanning what’s going on, but not taking the information in at a deep level. When the term was first coined, it was attributed to a fear of missing out on something, rather than an attempt to be productive.

CPA has been accused of making people tired and unproductive; and that was before lockdowns and Zoom meetings began!

Are you accepting invites to online events because you can attend them while you cook the evening meal, or while you are getting exercise? Are you working on a document, with your email open on the other screen so that every time you hear the email notification ‘ping’ you can quickly see who the new email is from, and what it is about? Are you having lunch with a friend, but constantly looking at your phone, making sure that you respond to social posts at the same time? Is your phone (and maybe also your watch) set to notify you when you receive a new message in your Teams Chat, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google News, WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal …?

Individuals need to take responsibility for their use of technology. You can discourage constant partial attention during meetings and events that you are holding over Teams / Zoom, by employing some of the following strategies:

  1. Agenda. Have an agenda / plan for your meeting, displayed within the meeting for the duration. Refer to the agenda as you go along.
  2. Outcomes. Briefly agree on what the desired outcomes will be from your meeting, at the start. That will encourage more active participation from attendees, as they are reminded they are there to strive for an outcome and not just being kept in loop. This also helps toward an efficient meeting that aims at the goal and works towards it.
  3. Notes. If possible, make notes during the meeting which everyone can see (helpful if notes are taken by someone other than the main presenter or facilitator). Whilst you want to keep the notes very brief, it will also again help people to keep focused on the goals of the meeting.
  4. Small Groups. For a longer online gathering, punctuate it with useful breakouts into smaller groups e.g. to discuss how what you have just heard applies to you, or to work on solving one problem while others work on another, or to brainstorm a topic and then come back to the group to discuss. Make these instructions easy for the group members to re-read after they have moved into the group. These smaller groups help to engage people in doing, not just listening, and can produce some excellent results from the collective minds “in the room”. Ask a representative of each smaller group to give a summary of the group’s thoughts on return to the main room.
  5. Use Collaboration Tools. Sharing your screen to look at online data or a problem, or sharing the PDF you are discussing, helps to keep everyone “on the same page” literally! It helps to focus people into the meeting, rather than having a talk fest.
  6. Ban Lurking. If you are going to be on a video meeting, make sure everyone is showing their face. Knowing that people can see you will help ensure that everyone is present, not taking another call, reading emails, working on something else, walking out of the room, folding the washing etc.

Other ways to add some humanity back into your use of digital technology are suggested below.

Chat with a Human

You might be selling online, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be there at your customer’s side to answer their questions while they browse. Done well, this will be much less annoying than the shop assistant who sidles up to the happily browsing customer, making the customer want to leave the shop … or is that just me?

Chat bots have been around for years now, and the best of them combine automation as well as real people. The automation tries to help get the right answer quickly to the enquirer, when the humans are busy, but makes it quick and easy for humans to step in to answer questions any time of the day. We have implemented online chat within Enudge to help people get help fast. It gets used much more than by people picking up the phone or sending an email asking for help. Service businesses, not just online solutions such as Enudge, should be implementing chat support. When people are looking at your website and have a question, it is very helpful when they can chat immediately with a person in your organisation.

You do need to be organised to have the chat solution monitored by appropriate staff members. This doesn’t mean they need to sit at that screen all day, though, as you can usually set up alerts to your own most in-your-face messaging platform (Slack, Teams etc) to make sure you know about the chat request as quickly as possible.

Chat tools usually also give you the option to quickly refer customers to articles that answer their questions in more depth, or you can simply ask for a phone number so that you can call and discuss the problem right now.

We also incorporate chat tools into the mobile apps and web applications that we build for our clients. Chat tools can be configured to gather useful information about what the user was just doing before they asked for help, which will make it much easier for you to diagnose the issue and assist the customer.

Video (that doesn’t have to be Universal Studios quality)

It may make you feel uncomfortable at the thought of doing this, but scrappy, personalised video conversations to your team or your customers can make a huge impact. Video will be much more personal than a well written email. Over the pandemic, some large organisations have started sending out video addresses instead of written updates, to provide a message to their team that is much less likely to be misinterpreted.

In the last few years, video tools such as Vidyard have popped up, making it quick and easy to record a video introduction or follow up to send to sales prospects. These videos have shown to provide great cut through, because they have a much more human touch than a written follow up email.

The article “Why Should Brands Keep Making ‘Scrappy Ads’ Post-COVID” describes how the pandemic has forced fashion brands to allow the creation of much simpler ads, and the results of these low cost ads has been the same or even better than big budget productions. If your products and services are targeting a younger audience, they will likely engage more with scrappy ads.

Social influencers, also mentioned in the above article, are followed by many people because of their way of engaging and bringing people together around shared interests and values. That’s why we engage influencers to participate in real use of products, particularly to help promote consumer products.

Podcasts / Audio

Even easier to create than video, are podcasts or simply, voice recordings of the message you want to deliver. Your voice recording can be easily delivered for playback when your audience has a couple of minutes to tune in. It’s likely quicker to listen to your message than read it, and is a great replacement for requiring everyone to join into a Zoom meeting to get a one way update.

An audio message can be used in a similar way as the “scrappy video” mentioned above, to follow up on leads as a salesperson (for when you only have an email address). Of course, if you have their phone number, picking up the phone is a great way to connect also!

Creating a podcast channel, in which you regularly talk with people in your niche to add value and progress excellence in your field of expertise, can be very powerful to engage your audience. Podcasts lend themselves to storytelling about your experiences. People resonate with, and remember, stories. For more thoughts around the effectiveness of storytelling, you might like to read: storytelling in podcasting which was posted in 2020.

The Sound Cartel blog post on Ford’s Hit Podcast deeply explores the use of storytelling.

Invite Interaction, and then Engage

People want to voice their opinions (just look at every main news story these days, and that will be obvious).

You add humanity back into your use of technology, when you give people the opportunity to engage, and then respond and keep the conversation going. You might do this on your social media platforms, or in your blog comments.

It is important to be authentic. People will smell disingenuous a mile away. But if you really do care what people think, then give them lots of ways to provide that information to you, even when you can’t meet in person.

Keep the Conversation Going Offline

You may still be constrained by lockdowns or social distancing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep the conversation going by telephone or other offline means.

Sending something physical to a person might even shock them! It will certainly be memorable!

Ecommerce stores that take the time to nicely wrap, and slip in a little gift, are appreciated and remembered for much longer after the delivery. Compare that with goods that arrive poorly wrapped with a stained picking slip shoved in the box. Again, it’s the human touch that counts.

In Summary …

People are starved of real, human interaction. Help people re-engage again, with you and your team. I expect it will help your bottom line, as well as do a very nice thing for the world at large.

For more reading on this topic, I recommend:

4 Strategies for Building a Hybrid Workspace that Works – HBR article which looks at the way the physical layout of offices and use of the office, is likely to change because of our forced working from home.

Are you paying attention … really? – article from Lingford Consulting on the impact of CPA (continual partial attention) and how to combat it.

‘You can’t show empathy over email’: Business leaders turn to internal podcasts to stay connected with workforces – Digiday article on how podcasts have been embraced since the pandemic to better engage with employees.

Your Turn

Please share with everyone reading this blog by posting your comment via the ‘Leave a Reply’ form below on how you have felt the benefit of humanity being injected into the digital world. I promise I will respond!

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Social Reviews: Why they are Important and How to Respond

November 17th, 2021 by Isaac Nelapana

We all love when customers love our business, but what happens when a customer is unsatisfied enough to leave a negative review?

In this blog we discuss how you can leverage this opportunity to not only satisfy unhappy customers but also win the respect of potential customers.

Why responding to reviews is important?

85% of consumers now trust online reviews as much as they trust traditional recommendations. If you consider just people in the age group of 18 – 29, that number is 91%. Online reviews have become the main method of influence and social proof in 2021.

Let’s say that you’re looking to get pet insurance for your cat. You really love your cat. She’s been such an excellent buddy during the pandemic, minus the part where she interrupts the occasional Teams Meeting with your colleagues. But a blessing, nonetheless!

Since you don’t really want to spare any expense, you type “best pet insurance australia” on Google and hit search. Then, you see search ads from 3 companies – RSPCA, Kogan and Choosi.

Other attributes aside, you would probably be inclined to explore RSPCA solely based on the fact it has average rating of 4.5 across 1,384 reviews.
Why?
Humans are social creatures and generally feel that it’s important to conform to the norms of a social group – a phenomenon otherwise described as “social proofing” by leading social scientist Robert Cialdini in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

When making decisions, we often look around us to see what others are doing, before making our mind up.

If you think that reviews weren’t important, you might want to consider the following statistics:

  • A study by Northwestern Universitys Spiegel Research Centre discovered that the likelihood of someone purchasing a product with five reviews is 270% greater than a product with no reviews. Further, when reviews are shown for a lower-priced product, the conversion rate increases by 190%. This figure rises to 380% for higher-priced products.
  • Consumers read an average of 10 reviews before deciding to trust a local business. Interestingly, Facebook and Yelp are the two most-trusted review sources for local searches. Google comes in at a close third. Yelp seems to have the strictest rules and regulations, with the average review score on its platform being 3.65, much lower than Facebook (4.42) and Google (4.3).
  • Yelp may be the most reliable place to gauge reviews for customers. An extra rating star on Yelp translates into a 5% to 9% revenue growth, a statistic that only underscores the impact that a Yelp rating has on business’ bottom-line.
  • 57% of consumers will only consider a business if it has a star rating of 4 stars or more.

That’s some pretty persuasive figures when it comes to validating the importance of online reviews for your business.

But you shouldn’t stop at merely collecting reviews. 97% of consumers who read online reviews also read those businesses’ responses to their online reviews.

How a business responds to a negative review can influence the searcher as much as a positive review. Firstly, it displays a sense of authenticity to the reviews. Not all customers can be happy, and a negative review here and there can actually be a good thing for social proof as it can legitimise the other reviews in the mind of the reader.

However, it is vital that you have access to respond to negative reviews to handle the customer’s criticisms in a way that makes other potential customers comfortable that you handle conflict well.

8 Tips on how to respond to Negative Reviews

Understand your customer’s experience with your business before responding.
If someone mentions a problem with a product or service, investigate to see what may have gone wrong.

This is valuable business insight. It’s so easy to get lost in the day-to-day running of your business that you lose the customers perspective. Take the criticism with an open mind.

Be honest about mistakes made and steps you’ve taken (or will take) to remedy the situation. Further, consider that the customer might be venting their frustrations about something else.

Get a second opinion
To ensure that your response to a negative review is accurate, let an unbiased third party scrutinise it before you post it online.

Double-check your message for grammar and tone by sending the response to several colleagues to ensure that it “reads” well to a third party. Otherwise, you run the risk of your response being interpreted as overly defensive or aggressive, which would neither benefit you nor the customer.

Respond in a timely and personalised manner
Studies have shown that 87% of e-commerce sites don’t respond to the negative reviews, not even on their most popular products sold. This is not a sustainable strategy since businesses experience a 37% decline in customer advocacy simply by not responding to negative reviews.

When an airline responded to a customer’s tweet in five minutes or less, that customer was willing to pay almost $20 more for a ticket on that airline in future. According to Yelp’s Data Science team, Yelp users are 33% more likely to upgrade their review if you respond with a personalised message within a day.

Customers (especially unhappy ones) always appreciate a prompt response. Whenever you receive a negative review, make it your priority. Read the review carefully, put together a quick action plan and be sure to have replied within 24 to 48 hours. Further, document all your responses to negative reviews and construct a guidebook for your business that can serve as a reference point in the future.

Quick Tip – Add Google My Business to your phone so you can see reviews as they come in.

Acknowledge and Apologise
A negative review, either one that contains harsh language or a low-star rating, can feel like a personal attack. In these times, as difficult as it sounds, you must remember to stay professional and courteous. Accept that not every customer will be 100% satisfied. Objectively analyse the situation and avoid lashing out at the customer.

Then, proceed to thank the customer for the review. Even if negative, this customer took the time to provide feedback on your business. It is an opportunity to learn.

Aim to make the customer feel that you care deeply about your relationship with him since over 70% of buying decisions are based on how a customer feels they are being treated. It might still be the early days, but you have a realistic shot at retaining your customer by approaching them sincerely and promising to do better in the future.

“We’re sorry to hear you had an unpleasant experience with us this time, and value your feedback. But we’d love to make it up to you the next time around. Contact us at [CUSTOMER SERVICE EMAIL] to receive a special discount code for your next purchase!”

You can also opt for the following response:
“On behalf of everyone at [BUSINESS NAME], I apologise for your poor customer experience. We aim to provide the best service to all our customers, and as you can see from the other reviews, your negative experience was truly an exception. You have our word when we promise not to let this happen again. Our staff will commit to improving their delivery and give you the star service you deserve, should you choose us again. Please accept my heartfelt apologies in the meantime.”

Showing the customer your willingness to see things their way can make a huge difference in their perception of you. Such compassion and empathy for the customer acts as a great display of business ethics to potential customers, giving them a sneak peek into your business personality.

Additionally – and this is important – you have shown how you handle criticism to anyone else who might read that review. You are writing a response for that customer AND any potential future customer. You have managed to reinforce your commitment to customer satisfaction as well as outline the positives that most customers feel about your business, and this is a powerful brand message to convey.

Consider the type of reviewer
Despite every person having a unique situation, there are certain broad categories into which people fall. For instance, they may be First-time reviewers, Sharpshooters, or Serial Complainers. Understand these categories and be prepared with a tailored response for each category.

  • First-time reviewers. Assess whether the negative feedback is accurate. If it is, make internal changes to fix the problem. When applicable, explain how you will prevent this issue from occurring again in the future. Further, if you disagree with the reviewer’s statements, politely and professionally present your side of the story.
  • Sharpshooters. Sharpshooters are the ones who write brief, but often rushed or poorly worded reviews. Your response to these reviews must be concise, built on clear sentences instead of elaborate ones to reflect the reviewer’s communication style.
  • Serial Complainers. Serial complainers are seasoned reviewers with a track record of leaving lengthy negative reviews for every business, product, or service they use. They are incredibly hard to please and have unrealistically high standards of service, usually not in proportion to what they paid for. In this case, you must tread carefully given that the reviewer is experienced at making businesses like yours look bad online. Look at how other businesses have responded to serial complainers and avoid making the same mistakes they made.
  • Fake Reviewers. Fakers, or fake reviewers are the worst type of reviewers. A faker has never used your business or purchased your product. Despite this, they have a grudge and delight in leaving one-star reviews based on fictional complaints to harm your online reputation. They may be working on behalf of a competitor (or even be a competitor!). If you suspect a review is fake, check your customer records to determine if they have ever used your business. Once you’re sure that you’re dealing with a faker, proceed to flagging the review on Google Maps, or on business.google.com (Google My Business). If you haven’t received an email from Google stating that they’ve received your request, head over to Twitter and send a direct message to Google My Business.

Add a Touch of Specificity
Always address the reviewer’s primary concern. Doing so shows that you’re paying attention to their review — that you hear them and care enough to tailor your response to their unique situation.

“We’re usually known for our exceptional customer service, and we regret that we didn’t live up to those expectations here.”

Keep it Short and Sweet
Even when the negative review seems a bit unfair, resist the urge to defend every point and prove your case. It may sound counterintuitive, but long-winded responses only serve to legitimise the complaint, and further upset the customer.

Besides, a detailed, point-by-point rebuttal can sound defensive. Don’t ask follow-up questions. You want to avoid saying anything that could invite the customer into writing another negative response.

Move the Situation Offline
As much you want to resolve the issue, never try to fix everything from one empathetic online reply. Instead, aim to take the conversation offline. If this is the first time you are hearing of the complaint, invite the customer to email or call so that you can try to sort out the matter with them.

“If you are open to discussing this further, please call us at (03) 9999 1234 and ask to speak with Jamie, our General Manager. We’d greatly appreciate the opportunity to make things right and work toward earning back your business.”

In conclusion, remember that when you respond to a negative review, you are not just in communication with one unhappy customer.

The truth is you are communicating with a whole bunch of prospective customers who consider your response to past negative reviews before purchasing from you. Thus, a well-written negative review response can increase sales. So, it’s crucial to get your response right every time.

After all, a carefully considered response can turn a negative into a positive for your business.

If you’re a local business that needs help with creating a Google My Business listing, or responding to negative reviews online, we can help.

At Contactpoint, we offer SEO audits, consulting, and monthly local SEO services. We optimize Google My Business listings to help you get the most from this amazing free tool, including crafting perfect responses to negative (and positive) reviews.

Contact our office today on (03) 8525 2082 or send us an email at info@contactpoint.com.au and we’ll be happy to help.

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