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Customer Trust – Glass Half Empty or Glass Half Full?

Customer Trust

How does a business gain customer trust? How does a business gain trust in uncertain times? Very important questions. It requires some real thought. The quietness we are all in is the perfect time to step back and evaluate. Soon businesses will reopen and begin new business’ models for the times we are in. Customer trust is critical for survival. In my opinion, it has never been more important.

Winners and Losers

I have seen CEO’s posting in Linkedin about what they are currently doing to retain customers. They are, in part, establishing brand trust. A large restaurant chain offered a catering style dinner delivered, with the exact specifications of the customer. I mark that one a “glass half full” rating because they are pivoting to the new norm. Not to mention the convenience they are offering those families who are home schooling kids while working full time jobs. Great job TGIFridays! They took it a step further by offering to go Meal Kits. I love this and I bet their customers do too. When you check out their website you see true transparency. Another win!

Ice Cream Chain Confuses Customer

An ice cream chain of restaurants are an example of “glass half empty” rating. I recently stumbled on this Facebook post by an unhappy customer.

Customer waits for almost 30 minutes in a drive through lane, trying to bring home ice cream treats for the family perhaps, only to get to the window to read a sign about COVID-19 PPE requirements for the first time. Better yet, I checked out their website, and there is nothing there about COVID-19. No messaging whatsoever. It is like COVID-19 is not even happening in their world. Zero transparency. Notice that this post was commented on by 186 people, but who knows how many people viewed it without leaving a comment. As I scrolled through the comments, a few people discussed how the customer service at this location has been deteriorating for some time. Sadly, this business will never see this post because they are not listening well online.

Social Media Impact & Reach

Social media usage is up right now, which makes social media listening for customer service even better. Leaning in on social data now will help build customer trust.

People in general, your customers, are stressed. They have certain expectations for the businesses they love. What do you think will happen when this is all over and the ice cream store is open for dine in? Would you remember this experience and try out a new ice cream store instead? Let me take it one step further. Let’s say this customer does try out a competitor and they find that their product is not as stellar but their customer experience is fantastic! Speed, delivery and a smile. Recovery from this kind of poor customer service is long lasting. Who can afford that right now?

Leaning in on Customer Insights

The word cloud is a great visual of what we are feeling right now. Another “glass is half full” award goes to ChatDesk and their recent blog post on “How Are Your Customers Feeling About Coronavirus / COVID-19?” Excellent Social Media Listening! It pretty much recommends that we all put ourselves in our customer’s shoes right now.

Listen Like This

*Blog by: Kathy Doering, President of Ann Michaels & Associates. The above example is only one way in which we listen on behalf of our customers. If this is something you would like to see up close and personal, please schedule a demo with use here.

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Social Media and Customer Service

Customer Service

The secret is out in living color on the cover of Consumer Reports – how to use social media as the last chance way to get some attention when unhappy with a product or service. This issue shares secrets to great customer service, and social media use is one of them.
Consumer Reports states that 84% of consumers who posted complaints to social media used Facebook.
The report goes on to suggest that social media can be a highly effective way to resolve customer complaints, even when other approaches fail.


JCPenney is one retailer that was cited as having great customer service via Twitter.


When a customer reached out by phone and learned of the hold times, she quickly went to the company’s Twitter page. She said that their phone wait times were “nuts” and within minutes a representative quickly tweeted a reply. After a bit of back and forth, the issue was resolved.


As the chart indicates, the under 25 demographic shows an indication that they will be the ones who will expect this type of service moving forward, so making sure those wait times are on target will be well worth the effort.

Ann Michaels & Associates, a leader in Customer Experience and Social Media Management, conducted a study on this very topic

How long is too long when it comes to receiving an answer to a product or service question in social media?As the Consumer Reports article shows a consumer expectation, Ann Michaels & Associates set out to look at the disparity between what consumers expect as far as wait time for brands to respond to consumer concerns vs what is actually happening.on social.
The study was initiated when it was evident social would serve as a customer service channel – take a look at consumer expectations vs brand response and learn how response time on social shifted over a three year period.
Click here to find out the results

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How to Spot Fake Online Reviews

fake reviews online

Fake it ‘til you make it…right?!? Wrong! But it seems that’s how some sellers try to do it. Amazon is reportedly “fighting a barrage of seller scams on its website,” The Wall Street Journal reports. They have deleted thousands of reviews that could have been fake; fired workers who gave sellers inside information; and killed some techniques that might have helped products surface higher on searches when they shouldn’t have, reports the Journal. “If bad actors abuse our systems, we take swift action, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, taking legal action and working with law enforcement,” an Amazon spokeswoman told The Journal.

And Amazon is not alone. Fake reviews are a problem across all retail platforms. Why some businesses think that trashing the competition is the quickest way to the top is beyond us, but more and more are doing it online every day.  Whether it be review sites, blogs, or even Facebook – it seems that no one is safe from the fake reviews or comments these days.

What’s funny is that it DOES NOT work.  No matter how sneaky/tricky/brilliant you think you are with your made up review or comment, you’re not fooling many, if anyone.  Did you know that website owners can look up your IP address to see where your post is coming from?  You may think this is a good way to get a leg up on your competition, but really, it’s just making you look foolish.  Even if you get away with it for a while, when word gets out, you’ll just look silly at best.  Worst case scenario, you (and possibly your business) will be banned from the site that you’re posting to.

A survey released last year found that nearly 8 in 10 consumers say they think they’ve read a fake review in the past year; and 84% of consumers say they can’t always spot a fake review. Can you tell what is fake and what is real?

Try these tips:

Look at the Timing of Reviews – “See if there is a spike in the total number of reviews during a very short time frame. This can indicate a targeted campaign to add new artificial reviews,” says Derek Hales, the editor-in-chief of product testing and research site ModernCastle. If reviews are obviously favorable or negative towards a specific product or business, that can be a red flag. Also, if a review is published before the product being reviewed is released, it is likely not authentic.

Dig Deeper into the Reviewer Profile – On sites like Amazon, Yelp or TripAdvisor, look at the user’s profile and read other reviews they’ve posted.  If their only reviews are praise for one particular place or product, or complaints about a particular place or product, they’re likely fake. Another common type comes from a “professional reviewer” — someone who was given the product for free and given extra money to give a five star review, explains Jean H. Paldan, the founder and CEO of marketing firm Rare Form New Media. If the reviewer has a big trend of giving all five star reviews without any negativity, most likely they were bought and paid for. Another hint is if they’ve done a lot of five-star reviews for products owned by the same company.

Look for verified purchases or when in doubt, reach out to the reviewer. Most fake reviewers will not respond, but real reviewers often look forward to opportunities to be more helpful.

Look At The Lingo – Keep an eye out for industry specific words that the average reviewer would not likely use.  Most restaurant guests are not going to say “delectable cuisine” when reviewing a meal. Phrase repetition is another clue. “Look through several reviews and see if any words or phrases are repeated in different reviews. Reviews that use the same phrase(s) may have been instructed to do so by the party faking the reviews, says Derek Hales, the editor-in-chief of product testing and research site ModernCastle.

 According to research from Cornell University, online reviews that frequently use “I” and “me” are more likely to be fake than those that don’t — possibly because when people are lying they try to make themselves sound credible by using personal pronouns. Additionally, “deceivers use more verbs and truth-tellers use more nouns,” the research found.

And, says Michael Lai, the CEO of review site SiteJabber.com, “Check the spelling and grammar of the review. Many fake reviews are outsourced to international content farms and are either written in poor English or not in a way a real consumer would express their opinion.”

Watch Out for the Untrustworthy – The first clue would be generic names (i.e. John Smith) or a profile with no picture. Next, look for reviews written in all caps, have terrible grammar, swear frequently, or put seven exclamation points at the end of every sentence (or right smack in the middle for extra emphasis!!!!!!!) It is very hard to take these reviews seriously, let alone see them as credible.

And we’ve all seen the “I tried this product, hated it, and promptly bought the {competitor product here} and I LOVE it! Go buy it here now for 20% off!” review.  What’s even worse is reviewers who leave a link to their own site in their review. Instant credibility loss!

So is it even worth reading online reviews?  Actually, yes.  Many sites are cracking down on fake reviews, due to the importance of legitimate ones.   Sites like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor continue to work on their fraud detection, even allowing other reviewers and businesses to submit questionable reviews to be moderated.  Yelp claims that an astounding 20% of reviews never get published due to reviews not meeting their content guidelines.

Your best bet is to read the middle-of-the-road reviews. “It’s often helpful to sort reviews that fall in the middle of the pack (e.g 3/5 stars). These reviews are often the most honest and insightful about both the positive and negative aspects of the venue and can be used to cross-reference other reviews to look for trends in both positive and negative feedback,” says Marc Nashaat, an enterprise SEO & digital PR consultant.

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