At the time of writing this, it’s another week when technology news hits the headlines again with Google, Whatsapp and websites all raising controversial discussion.
Google found themselves having to apologise after a series of companies withdrew their ads when it emerged they were being displayed alongside hate videos and other inappropriate content, so the money garnered from their advertising efforts had been making its way into the hands of hate-preachers and anti-Semites.
Whatsapp has been accused of giving terrorists a place to hide after refusing to release details of encrypted messages and a 17 year old found herself confronted by Trump’s lawyers after she made a website to practice her coding skills where users click to punch the US President’s face with tiny kitten paws – I’m saying nothing in case the man with the tan is reading this! With greetings cards also in the headlines as shoppers debate the suitability of rude designs, it raises the question of where to draw the line – what is considered offensive, what safeguards are needed and who should police them?
If all this seems a bit daunting, applying common sense will usually help. Don’t be deterred by extreme examples. Listening to and understanding your customers will steer you to keep posts within the parameters acceptable to them.
When developing an online presence, let your character and personality shine through while treating your business page as somewhere you’d be happy for your neighbours to think of you. Post regularly, with content that is a mix of engaging words and images, not all product-related, and interact with your customers, be quick to reply and address any complaints. Invite them to review your products and services and use your best customer service skills to quickly address any negative issues.
Odeon Cinema Fail
Chris has touched on the Ratner moment on his column last week “Engage Not Outrage“, Odeon cinemas are another example of how it can go wrong following a long letter of complaint from customer Matt Pledger on their Facebook page, polite, but raising a number of concerns.
Odeon failed to address the issue in a timely fashion and, five years on, comments on his post are still running, with 292,000 reactions and more than 24,000 comments. In comparison, while I’ve been writing this an email has popped into my in-tray from a shop’s customer service team with a code for free delivery on my next order.
I’d bought some items online but, two days after placing the order and paying, they emailed me to say several things were out of stock. The website invited me to leave a review, so yesterday I had a grumble about the service – less than 24 hours later, they’ve responded positively to redress the situation. I also have a free bottle of wine waiting for my next visit to a local restaurant after I reviewed their disappointingly slow service.
Please don’t think I make a habit of complaining, I feel uncomfortable when I do but, in both cases, I simply gave the necessary feedback when asked and the quick apology and gesture of goodwill are enough to make me a returning customer and hopefully encourage the shop and restaurant to address the causes of my complaint.
It’s all very positive as neither business tried to make excuses or defend themselves from my criticism – I appreciate items can go out of stock very quickly and restaurants do get unexpectedly busy sometimes. I now feel they’ve listened and reassured me that I’m a valued customer. Had they ignored me or argued back, and it’s so easy to fall into the trap of doing this if you feel the problem is beyond your control, the matter would never be resolved and I would never return as a customer.
Independent Shop Support
For independent shop owners, the local community are your neighbours, invite them in, have a little grumble and a laugh, reflect on life’s ups and downs, smooth over any hiccups and rally round when someone needs a bit of support.
If you’re feeling in need of a bit of support yourself, there’s lots of industry events that can give you help and advice. Greetings Today have all the information you need to support your business with a great online presence too with their near-daily email newsletter as well as regularly updated Twitter and Facebook pages.
Members of the Cardgains buying group can learn more about social media through their seminar training events. Trade shows are also a great place to meet and chat with your suppliers, to see their new launches and to have a general catch-up.
Cherry Orchard will be at PG Live in London on June 6-7, and also at the Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival in Harrogate on July 16-19. We really hope you can come and see us at one (or both!) these events because we’re very excited as we’re working on something very special which we think is going to bring a whole new dimension to the greetings
The internet is a wonderful tool but can be scary if you don’t know how to make the best use of it. In this series of articles retailer Cherry Orchard Publishing’s Helen Pallen aims to pass on all the online tips she’s discovered so far to help independent retailers boost their bricks and mortar business in the digital age. This article was originally published in Greetings Today Magazine.