Managing Post-Holiday Customer Reviews

January is here – meaning the end of the holiday season, and the time also, to take an account of how your company ‘performed’ from the perspective of customer service. We discussed earlier, about the importance of holiday customer service – we now look at managing post-holiday customer reviews. These would begin coming in post the happy distribution and opening of gifts and customers would begin to review and judge the products they bought from a company – reviews and comments would range from extremely appreciative to vociferously negative. It is these post-holiday customer reviews, which tell companies what they did well and where they ‘dropped the ball’.

Managing all kinds of customer reviews is extremely critical to the success and even sustainability of a company. Research shows that 90% customers said that their purchase decisions were influenced by positive comments about a company and its products, while 86% customers said that negative ones influenced their buying decisions. Left unattended, all customer reviews, but especially the negative ones can seriously affect future business. Customers would have spent a lot and made significant efforts to buy the best for their loved ones during the holiday season, which means that they expect to be treated fairly if something did not meet their expectations. Managing post-holiday customer reviews should be one of the top responsibilities of a company, since research shows that at least 70% customers reported that they would buy again from a company if their problem were resolved, and this percentage would increase to 96% if the company’s resolution were speedy and efficient. Another reason why responding effectively to post-holiday customer reviews is so important is that these responses have a deep positive impact on shoppers – doubling their intent to buy from the company. It would seem highly imprudent for any company to ignore or negate these data.

Managing post-holiday customer reviews is all about ensuring that the response be customized and targeted to each individual customer – even if there were many complaints of similar nature. It might be possible to change the opinion of some customers, while others may continue to remain unhappy. It is however, the integrity and preciseness of the response that will determine whether customers, even the dissatisfied ones, stay with the company or defect. The company’s responses play a critical role in building its reputation, and ensuring that prospective customers view the company with positivity. It is critical for a company to remember that customers are extremely perceptive – hence it is necessary to keep the responses authentic, genuine, and must reflect empathy. Robotic or rote responses would only serve to make even mildly dissatisfied customers, irate, thereby compounding the problem for the company. Show honesty and remain transparent – this is the message that customers convey, and they are sure to reciprocate.

Managing post-holiday customer reviews is essential for a company to improve and make amends for the future. This must be part of the overall customer service strategy of the company, and would require concerted effort and focus. A company can do several things to ensure that the next set of post-holiday customer reviews are largely positive, while making amends with customers for the holiday season that just ended. Since service happens through employees, it post-holiday season would be a good time to review their individual performances, rather than waiting for the annual review. Employees must understand the parameters that their performance would be judged on – things such as whether they did whatever was required to help customers, were they willing to ‘stretch’ to cover for an absent colleague, were they part of a problem or the solutions, and other such criteria. Reviewing immediately, post the holiday season ensures that every ‘event’ would be fresh in the mind. Employees who performed below par could be asked either, to leave or put on some kind performance improvement program, while the ones that worked well could be rewarded in different ways. Reviewing post-holiday customer reviews should be part of the employee review process – to show employees what customers felt and said about the company and the service they received.

Managing post-holiday customer reviews would help a company to understand which of their promotional activities and marketing tactics worked and which ones should never be used again. The feedback by way of the reviews would help the company to put in place future activities and plan better for the next season. Another aspect of such review would be to review also the products your company had on sale. Both customer reviews about the products, and the products that did not sell to well, would give a company a fair idea of the kinds of products they could repeat and which ones may need to go off the market in the current year. In addition, it would be a good idea to evaluate whether the branding and signage used had the impact the company hoped for, and if not, what they would need to change.

Dealing with post-holiday customer reviews does not suffice on its own. It would be necessary for a company to evaluate how much each customer spent, which customers returned merchandise, why they did and how often. It would be a good idea to review the company’s list of suppliers and vendors, especially if some of them did not provide good service, because of which your company would have received negative post-holiday customer reviews. It would be prudent to either fire such vendors and get new ones or tighten clauses within their agreements.

The most important part of post-holiday customer reviews is an effective response – both on negative and positive reviews. For the negative reviews, an apology would be necessary, while for positive ones, a heartfelt thank you would be in place. The idea is to show customers that your company has noted their responses, would be willing to make amends where required, and provide better service in the future. In addition, responding speedily and politely to online post-holiday customer reviews is great for the image and reputation of the company, since other readers and prospective buyers would base their buying decisions on such interactions.

When customers provide post-holiday customer reviews, or at any other time of the year, they expect the company to take complete responsibility if something has gone wrong. Managing the responses would mean letting customers know that a company is paying close attention to them, and that they are important for the company. In addition, when a company takes responsibility for its products and services, it reflects integrity, honesty, and confidence of the company, in its abilities and offerings. Such attributes are extremely attractive to customers – not only would they return with more business, they would be sure to encourage others to buy from the company too.

Post-holiday customer reviews, as mentioned, would be both positive and negative. In either case, it would be prudent for a company to remain in control – overacting or going overboard over the reviews would mess with the company’s ability to respond appropriately. It would be wise to remember that neither of the reviews would be personal, and would only reflect the perception and feelings of an individual customer. Remember that managing post-holiday customer reviews is essential – responses must be speedy and appropriate, and should be followed up with suitable actions, especially if a customer were upset. The end of the holiday season may be more relaxed but it certainly is the time for a company to review how it performed and prepare for a more fruitful and effective next season. How good is your company with managing post-holiday customer reviews?

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