It can take a lifetime to build a good reputation and only a moment to lose it.

This old saying is more appropriate today than ever. A retail jewellery store lives or dies on its reputation. We spend money on advertising, marketing, tools, and education to enhance our image in our community. We invest in fine showcases, innovative displays, and point of sale materials. We work and slave to build our business and earn our market share. And it can all come to a crashing halt with just one tweet.

Several years ago I was called in to mediate a conflict between a customer and a jewellery store. The issue itself was simple and could have been resolved easily but instead had escalated into an online battle. They followed each other to several online travel forums and several complaint boards. (This was before social media) There were accusations, name-calling and general mayhem. By the time I got them settled down enough to resolve the issue, the damage had already been done.

Dave_reputationEven today, entering their names on Google will bring up the entire permanent record of their childish behaviour. The final result is that the customer is no longer welcome to shop for jewellery in any of the stores in his favourite vacation destination and the jeweller is out of business.

A happy customer tells their friends, an unhappy customer tells everybody.
Now we have social media. Social media is all about relationships. Call it friends, likes, links, followers, and probably several more that I still don’t know about; it is a web of connections that spreads far beyond any one connection. Some people have hundreds or even thousands of friends and followers, who also have friends and followers, and on and on.

Another problem with social media is that the message is instant. Happy or unhappy, your customer can tell everyone in just a few seconds. You don’t have time to find a solution to make your customer happy or even consider a response to their postings. It happens fast. One moment you are on top of the world, the next moment the world is on top of you.

Social media is bringing your customer service out into the open for the world to see. If you give your customer a great experience and make them ecstatically happy, there is a chance they will mention it on one or two of their favourite media. But get them mad and it is almost a certainty that they will blast you on every social platform they can find.

Obviously, the best way to prevent being blasted online is to always give an excellent jewellery shopping experience to every single customer. But it is important to have a plan in place to deal with any negative social media comments and the resulting fallout. I’ll talk more about ways to respond next week.

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