What People Say About You Matters

We spend a lot of our times trying to convince ourselves that what other people think doesn't matter. It's our lives, our clothes, our views, so everyone else can just mind their own business.

But in business, what people say about you matters more than what you say about you, no matter what you wish. The proliferation of review-based sites like Amazon, Yelp, and TripAdvisor—not to mention the ability to leave a review on nearly every product—matters.

What can you do about it when people say bad things about you?

1. Know Where People Talk About You

You can't get ahead of what people say about you if you don't know where they do so. If someone has a problem with your service, are they tagging you directly on Twitter or heading straight to their favorite chat room? Is it on a review service website or part of a LinkedIn community? If you don't investigate and listen, you won't be able to address their concerns or encourage their positive reaction.

2. Provide A Great Experience In The First Place

This one seems relatively self-explanatory, but unfortunately, many brands miss the mark here. Yes, there's always going to be "haters"—picky people who can't be pleased—but often, there's a missing link in your service chain. How are you providing the best possible experience at every level? What shortcuts are you making because of penny-pinching pressure? 

3. Address & Respond

Now: the hard part. 

As Jay Baer argues in Hug Your Haters, the cost of NOT responding has become too great. If someone has a negative experience and you don't respond (or worse, respond way too late to make a difference) it decreases overall customer advocacy every time in every channel. 

Related: What Marketers Can Learn From Customer Service (Ivy Exec)

Rather than constantly refilling a leaky bucket of customers, what happens when we treat our haters as our most important ones? Become a better business AND make more money simply by engaging with your customers everywhere they talk about you—positive and negative.

I found some great examples of this here, or if you'd like a full report, definitely read Jay's book.

Bottom Line: What People Say About You Matters.

I'm about to book a trip to St. Thomas (I know, so excited) and when I search on Trip Advisor, even the "top rated" hotels and resorts have bad reviews. Words like "dirty," tend to turn me off—especially bad ratings at trusted brands like the Marriott. 

The good news? We used reviews to find a top rated B&B away from the resort crowd and can't wait to go. But it just goes to show: the way consumers make decisions are dramatically affected by reviews. I'm the type of person that goes for what I "know" in a new place, so it shocked me that a name brand would have such poor reviews (and very few responses from the hotel).

It's important to know what people say about you and where because it's not just a missed opportunity from a financial perspective, but a branding one, too, which can last much longer in the minds of your consumers.