Much like the complaint and suggestion boxes of yesteryear, the internet is, among many other things, a place where people gather to complain about things. Movies, music, politics – think about how much of what you see on the internet is negative reactions and reviews. You can use this to your advantage in looking for ways to run your business more effectively.
To take a simple example, imagine that you were running a hotel. In looking to make your hotel the best one on the market, you could go onto a site like orbitz or expedia, and look at the reviews of your competitors, the other established hotels in your area and price range. However, by focusing on the lowest reviews, you could find exactly what customers didn’t like about the hotel, and find ways for your product to pick up on opportunities that were missed by your competitors.
You can do this in any industry, and with any type of business. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look, and how to properly turn the negative feedback into useful and constructive advice.
Begin by knowing where to look, and what to look for. This depends primarily upon your industry. There are hundreds of industry-specific review websites and social networks out there, some of them better known than others. Twitter and Facebook are obviously great places to start, as are social media sites like Yelp, provided that they are relevant to your industry.
To find additional review sites, just browse through what people are linking to on Twitter and Facebook, or do a Google search for “your industry + reviews.” You’ll be surprised just how many sites there are out there.
Once you find negative feedback, you’ll need to incorporate what you’ve learned into your business. So if you see a lot of customers complaining about a business practice that is common in your industry (even if the complaints are specifically directed toward your company), then you know to change that practice. For instance, if you see a lot of complaints about online marketers sending out too many useless emails, you might want to take a step back and think about whether you’re personally guilty of that sin.
On the other side, if you see a lot of people complaining about something that doesn’t exist, then you may have found a niche for your business to profitably expand into.
At the end of the day, it’s always good to know what customers are saying about your business, and the other businesses in your industry. And considering that people are 10 times more likely to post a negative comment than a positive one, looking for negativity is a great way to start.