Posts Tagged ‘Online tips’

Why Online Reviews Are Flawed (and What to Do About It)

11-20 Online Peer Reviews smallPeople have always placed a lot of credibility in the reviews of others. On Amazon, eBay, Yelp or TripAdvisor, when they read what other consumers have said about products and services purchased, they place a higher value on this than any direct advertising from the company. This should not be a surprise since consumers see it as unbiased. But is it and how accurate are these reviews in judging the real performance of the product? 

Here is what is wrong with peer reviews:

  1. Consistency among star ratings. No one really knows what constitutes a five-star rating and what is a one star. Everyone’s scale is different so it is nearly impossible to tell. Some customers are generous scorers and others are painful critics. What one person sees as single star could be a four star to another.
  2. More lovers and haters post reviews. There are three types of customers that post most reviews. People that really like the product, people that really hate it and anyone being paid to do it. Realize that reviews by their very nature are going to skew toward the passionate positive or negative and may not reflect the opinion of the majority of customers who may fall somewhere in the middle.
  3. Gaming the system. Many companies try to pump up their ratings by offering incentives to people that post positive reviews about their business. While there may not be anything inherently wrong about this, it does skew the results in the company’s favor and is not a representative view of what the majority of the customers think. This happens because if a consumer is asked by the company for a review and is given an incentive to complete it, they are likely to be more positive in their comments.
  4. Fake reviews. These can either be very positive which are posted by friends or very negative which may be posted by competitors. Either way, they are inaccurate since they are not from customers. Amazon is now being very aggressive suing fake reviewers.   

How to add credibility to your company’s online review ratings:

  1. Encourage everyone to post a review. Follow up with customers with an email and a link. Do not offer any type of reward or incentive. Thank positive reviewers and be empathetic to the negative ones. Get details about their actual purchase when necessary. This will help make sure that they are actual customers and if there are actionable steps the company needs to take to improve. This type of user generated content will also reach the search engines for better organic placement.
  2. Delete only fake reviews. Do not delete bad reviews. Instead, respond with understanding and a solution. Companies that respond to negative reviews by wanting to fix the problem are viewed more favorably than companies that do not display bad reviews.
  3. Give a suggested ratings scale. Suggest to customers what a one-star review should be and what a five star one could be to get more consistency. For example explain: “Rate your experience as a one star if we did not meet your expectations. Tell us exactly what went wrong and how we can remedy the situation. Rate your experience as a five star if we far exceeded the expectations you had for the product and where we excelled.”
  4. Do not repeat reviews in multiple places. Some software will also automatically place the review on the company’s website, Facebook, and Twitter. This duplicated content will be viewed negatively by search engine algorithms. In addition, if a prospect reads the same review in multiple places, they will become suspicious and may think it is fake.
  5. Place reviews on multiple pages of the company’s website. This again will add to search engine rankings. It also is a constant reminder to prospects of how good the product or service is. Many of them may not get to the page where all the reviews are listed.

What story does your reviews say about your company?

Get Your Ecommerce Customer Service Holiday-Ready

10-13 Holiday e-commerce smallThe holiday shopping season is coming up quickly. If you have an e-commerce business, this time of year probably accounts for a huge proportion of your profits—so now is the time to make sure your website is prepared to deliver standout customer service for the holidays.

  • Start by reviewing your e-commerce website from the point of view of someone who isn’t familiar with it. You may want to enlist friends or family members to take some time shopping the site and see what they think. What do they have questions about? What do they need help with? Is there anything that's confusing? Take the time to fix any problems so that your site is easy to use and intuitive even for new visitors.
  • Make sure customers can find what they want—including customer service assistance—by including your company's phone number prominently at the top of every page (not just the homepage). In case customers are shopping from their mobile devices, ensure that your number displays on mobile as a click-to-call button so they can contact you with one tap.
  • Online chat is a useful option for an e-commerce site, allowing instant contact with your customer service for customers who may not want to talk on the phone (perhaps they’re shopping while at work or otherwise multitasking). You can have the chat window pop up right away, or if you think customers will find that annoying, wait until a certain amount of time elapses or other signs appear indicating customers need help.
  • One of the best ways to ensure customers are satisfied with your service is to be proactive. Before the holidays hit, make sure your FAQ pages are updated with current answers to questions. Provide as much information as possible about common problems customers might encounter, or questions they may have. The more “self-service” activities customers can do by themselves, the better. This extends to providing detailed information about shipping costs, taxes and shipping times. Especially at the holidays, time is of the essence, and knowing when to expect delivery may make the difference in a customer’s purchasing from you or not.
  • Last but not least, make sure you have adequate customer service staff on hand to handle your expected volume of calls, chats and other contacts. Don't give your competitors the chance to grab your business by failing to answer customers’ questions in a timely fashion.

Manage it right, and you'll find the customer service is the gift that keeps on giving, delivering loyal customers not only at the holidays, but long after.

Finally, The Top 10 Email and Text Acronyms Explained

8-13 Business Acronyms smallBusiness conversation is becoming more informal these days with the use of email and texting. The need to respond quickly has given birth to an entirely new vocabulary and acronyms. Many small business owners need to look them up to understand what people are talking about.

Here is your short guide to the most common acronyms and what they really mean:

1. EOM- End of Message. This is especially useful on mobile phones that only download the header for the message. By putting EOM in the title, the receiver knows that is the entire message and does not need to read further.

2. NRN- No Reply Necessary. A perennial favorite for the cluttered email box, this message means that it is FYI or “For Your Information” and does not need to be replied to (so don’t).

3. TLTR- Too Long to Read. Some people send long volumes of emails or very detailed text messages. This acronym is used to tell the sender to shorten it up and just send a summary. Sometimes it is written TL:DR or “ Too Long, Did Not Read”

4. Y/N- Yes or No. This asks for a simple answer from the receiver. Any further explanation is not required. They may respond IDK or “I Don’t Know”.

5. EOD- End of Day. This typically refers to when a task will be completed by or sets a deadline. It is interchangeable with COB or by “Close of Business”. Another acronym used instead is PRB or “Please Reply By”. A longer time frame is signified as EOW or “End of Week”. This is the opposite of TYT or “Take Your Time”

6. WFH- Working from Home. It is an increasingly popular option to not work in an office. This acronym is used to let the receiver know they are working, but will not be able to meet at the office. However, they are not OOO or “Out of the Office”.

7. LET- Leaving Early Today. Fewer jobs are 9 to 5 these days and this acronym is used to alert the receiver on a work schedule change.

8. SFW- Safe for Work. Many people are afraid to open attachments especially at work for fear of a virus. This signifies that it is okay to open whatever has been sent.

9. IMO or IMHO- In My “Humble” Opinion. No one wants to sound like they know everything at work. This adds humility to a response instead of stating it as fact. FWIW or “For What It’s Worth” can also be used.

10. ITT- In This Thread. Many times a receiver needs to follow the email thread to make sense of the entire conversation. This reminds them to read more.

BTW or “By The Way”, there are more acronyms that are important to know so you can LMAO. Look it up!

7 Ways to Use Social Media to Improve Your Customer Service

Your company’s social media presence is extremely important, and an essential channel to promote your brand image, but it’s not just about the content you’re posting to your company pages. The most important thing is what your customers are saying about your product/service, business and customer service. With so many different social media channels out there these days (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), it is important to establish a presence on the channels that your customers use most so you can keep an eye on what is being said about your company. Keeping tabs on how customers feel about your business provides tremendous insight to what you’re doing right and areas of opportunity that need to be addressed.

As consumers, we’re more likely to listen and trust our peers than a company’s well-crafted message about how great they are. It is important to remember that every interaction your customers have with your business has the potential to be shared on social media. Rave reviews, as well as rants about horrible customer service, can dramatically impact your sales, brand image and ability to grow.

In today’s digital age, social media breaks down the barriers between consumers and companies. There are huge advantages of this for both sides. Companies and consumers can now have a direct dialogue that wasn’t previously possible 10 years ago. However, as with anything, this comes with a downside. If customers have a negative experience with your product/service or a member of your team, they are likely to share it online, which can create a snowball effect of negative comments about your business. This is why it is essential to provide great customer service via your company’s social media channels to mitigate negativity and promote a positive brand image. 

Here are 7 tips we follow at Nextiva that will improve your customer service via social media.

  • Engage with people who post about your company on social media. Make it a two-way conversation. This builds loyalty and goodwill.
  • Know your customers and the social media channels they’re active on. Constantly monitor these channels so you have a pulse on how your customers feel about your product/services, customer service and brand overall.
  • Be personal with your posts and responses. No one likes to receive a canned response. At Nextiva, we reply via a personal  video whenever possible.

​         Video Response

  • Address customer questions, concerns and issues as quickly as possible. Speed is everything in today’s hyper-connected digital world.

         Responding to customer questions

  • Follow-up after a customer concern or issue has been resolved. This builds trust and shows others that you follow through. 
  • Download the app version of social channels your company uses so you can post and engage with followers from anywhere, at anytime.

​           social apps

  • Set up email alerts for your social media accounts so you’re always notified when someone mentions your company.  

Have some other tips for providing great customer service via social media? Share in the comments below.

Five Customer Trends That You Need To Be On Top Of

8-6 customer trends smallHere are five ways that customer expectations may have grown beyond what your company is providing. If you aren’t keeping up, the question becomes how quickly you can get up to speed, and the answer to this can make or break your bottom line and your survival prospects. So check out the list and see where you stand.  

1. Customers expect extended hours: hours that you’re open, hours that you provide support.  This may mean 24/7 or as close as you can get. For example: For its advertising clients, Google now not only offers support in 42 languages, it does so nearly around the clock, and offers English language support English-language support 24/5. That’s pretty good, considering we’re talking about B2B, non mission-critical support.

Customers also expect more flexibility and options during traditionally “off” hours. For example, if you’re in foodservice, consider letting customers order from either the dinner or lunch menu in the mid-afternoon, and consider offering a cold sandwich menu available late in the evening after the kitchen has closed but your bar is still open.

2. Customers expect self-service–well-designed self-service–to be an option: No matter how good your human-delivered customer service, customers expect self-service options as well. Self-service, which includes everything from web-based e-commerce to IVR (interactive voice response telephone systems) to concierge-like self-help touch-screen menus in public spaces to passengers printing their own boarding passes at home before traveling, is a powerful trend in customer service, and companies that ignore it, pursue it reluctantly, or violate the basic laws of its implementation will be left in the dust.

3. “Fast enough” isn’t, anymore:  Does your company still refer to internal documents with obsolete standards like “We strive to respond to Internet inquiries within 48 hours.  Maybe such a time frame made sense a few years ago (I actually doubt it, but maybe), but today, such a response time is the equivalent of 36 years in Internet time.  Your customer support standard needs to be response within just a few hours; after that, your customer is going to assume that you’re never going to get back to them. An intensified expectation of timeliness also applies to product and services delivery, an area where is obviously one of the leaders. Amazon’s example, and the twitchiness that apps and the Internet itself invoke, means that your company’s traditional definition of “fast enough” probably isn’t, anymore.

4. Social consumption is now the norm. “If I don’t have a picture of it on my phone, it didn’t happen”: Lisa Holladay, branding and marketing guru at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, tells me she’s heard this sentiment lately from young customers. This means that if business isn’t building opportunities for social sharing into the customer experience, you’re missing out on a chance to delight–rather than drive away–your customers. (Ritz-Carlton does this gently with the Shareable Experiences feature in their app and their #RCMemories “Let us stay with you” campaign; for an entirely different and kind of niftily over the top approach to this, you should also check out 1888 in Sydney, aka the “instagram hotel.”)

5. Customers are looking to blur the lines between the fun and the mundane: On the one hand, there’s a new expectation that fun, adventure, even ‘danger’ can be incorporated in potentially mundane interactions. Business travel is a great example of this: More and more travelers try to integrate some adventure, some local exploration, into what are ostensibly business trips. At the other end of this blurring of leisure and business, we have mostly given up on “fully unplugging,” so it makes sense to accommodate even leisure customers’ need or desire to work and keep in touch.  For example, it makes sense that some airlines’ long-haul flights now offer a “quick dine” option so passengers can quickly get back to work without the food tray being in their way, as it makes sense for businesses of all types to offer fast, no login required wifi and other tools to their waiting, “captive” customers.

Cloud Backup & Storage: Your Business at Your Fingertips

Imagine this scenario: It’s 8pm on Sunday night and you are presenting the results of a special project to your boss in a 9am meeting on Monday morning. You open up your computer after a relaxing weekend and realize you forgot to email yourself the presentation to review the material and make last minute adjustments. The file is on the desktop of your office computer, and you start to panic. If your business utilized a cloud backup and storage service, you would be able to log in to your account, download the file and get to work. The stress and anxiety you’re currently experiencing would be an emotion of the past.

Backing up and storing your files in the cloud allows you to access them from anywhere, on any device. The days of forgetting a file on your desktop will be a distant memory.

If you’ve thought about moving your files to a cloud-based storage service but haven’t committed yet, now is the time. Companies and employees now demand a more mobile and flexible work environment, and a cloud-based backup and storage service connects remote workers and allows employees to access their files from anywhere.

Not only will team projects be easier to manage, but you’ll increase team productivity and reduce time wasted sending each other files and working on old versions of presentations, projects, etc.


  • Backup business data on a schedule, on-demand or automatically based on your preferences
  • Securely transfer data from one device to another or between team members
  • Share files across devices, teams, departments and locations
  • Real-time sync so any time you add a new file or save changes to data, it syncs across all of your devices
  • Give users access to read only, read and write, or full control based on their role within the team, department or company

Still not convinced? Test out Nextiva Drive for FREE and experience the benefits of our cloud backup and storage service firsthand! Visit to get started.  

Four Key Cloud Communications Trends

Cloud communications solutions are becoming increasingly popular among businesses, and implementing these technologies in your business will help you gain a competitive advantage.  

Below are four key trends you need to know about cloud communications that are changing the way businesses communicate, operate, grow, and succeed.

Decrease in Cost

With flat monthly fees, unlimited calling and enhanced features, switching to a cloud-based phone system will save your business significant operational costs while boosting your team's productivity. A recent article by the Huffington Post stated, “Hosted VoIP is rapidly being adopted by many businesses who seek to avoid the excess costs and complexities of an on premise phone service solution.”

In addition to phone service, there are a variety of cloud-based communication, collaboration and relationship management tools that will take your business to the next level.  As these technologies and features have moved to the cloud, they are now available at a fraction of the cost because expensive infrastructure, equipment and on-site IT staff to manage the systems are no longer necessary. The total cost of ownership of cloud-based tools is significantly less than traditional systems. With the decrease in price of these technologies and the increase in features, small and medium size businesses are able to grow at an unprecedented rate. 

Mobility is Key

The concept of mobility isn’t new, but its importance to business success is now undeniable. It is essential for business professionals to have the ability to conduct business from anywhere, and cloud communications and collaborations systems provide the flexibility they need. Just as today’s consumers want to be able to make a bank deposit while sitting on the beach, today’s workforce needs to be able to work while waiting for a flight, sitting in a coffee shop between meetings, or from home while being as productive as they are in the office.

Cloud communications allow remote team members to stay connected and manage their phone system, files and meetings from web-based interfaces that are accessible from anywhere. Businesses will increase team productivity significantly by investing in cloud-based technologies that promote mobility and a flexible work environment.

Cloud-Based File Backup and Storage

You can’t afford to lose important business files or not be able to access them when the need arises. Backing up and storing your files in the cloud makes it easy to access files from anywhere, share them with colleagues, and collaborate on projects with remote workers. Backing up your files to the cloud also ensures your business doesn’t miss a beat in the event of a natural disaster or internal network issue.

Companies of All Sizes are Adopting Unified Communications Solutions

Unified cloud communications benefits companies of all sizes and industries. There isn’t a business out there that wouldn’t like to increase team productivity and efficiency. Those two ingredients, along with hard work and dedication, are what create and grow successful businesses. The move to cloud-based systems allows large enterprises to retire their outdated and costly equipment, and allows small businesses to implement technologies that were previously unattainable.

Has your business thought about moving to the cloud?

4 Must-Have Keyword Research Tools for Your Business

7-1 Keywords for website smallKeywords are instrumental in helping people find your website. Every time someone searches for a keyword that relates to your brand, you want them to find your site, nestled toward the top of search results. If that’s not the case, you need to invest serious time in researching the right keywords and adding them to your website. These tools make it easy to do.

1. Google Keyword Planner

This tool is part of Google AdWords, but you don’t have to buy ads to use it. Google Keyword Planner lets you search for keyword ideas as well as see how many people are searching for a given keyword.

Go one step further: Once you find a handful of keywords that you think accurately describe your products or services, incorporate them on each page of your website. But only use one or two per page! Using more may trigger Google to push you down search results rather than up, as the search mogul is cracking down on black hat SEO strategies.

2. WordTracker

Google’s Keyword Planner is free to use, but WordTracker is a subscription-based keyword research tool. It also provides relevant and related keywords, and can help you find ones you wouldn’t otherwise have thought of. You get more keywords than with Keyword Planner, and you can access your searches by logging into your account, rather than dealing with clunky spreadsheets of data.

Go one step further: Check out WordTracker Academy for great resources to help sharpen your SEO skills and stay on top of the latest updates. They also offer some great reports and downloads.

3. Twitter Hashtags

Just like with Google Trends, hashtags on Twitter can let you know what people are buzzing about right now.

Go one step further: Check the lefthand sidebar on your Twitter homepage to see the hashtags that are being used heavily at any given moment. Use them in your own social updates, or use the topics as blog fodder.


UberSuggest is one of the best free Keyword suggestion tools with an easy to use graphical component. Übersuggest is one suggestion tool that makes good use of different suggest services. You can get suggestions from regular web searches or from search verticals like shopping, news or video. Ubersuggest can be very useful for quick keyword based post ideas.

Bonus tool: Google Trends

While not a keyword research tool per se, Google Trends shows you what’s hot right now. This is especially useful if you’re looking for blog topics. Ride on the tails of trending searches or news, and you’re more likely to see more readers for that particular post.

Go one step further: Subscribe to Trends to get emailed whenever topics you care about pop up as trending.

Keywords change over time, so make sure you constantly stay on top of the best keywords to promote your small business website.  

Losing Your Customer to the Dark Side of the Internet

More PrivateThe Internet is no longer a very private place for people to find resources or to shop. It has become a crowded market with millions of advertisements, pop-up websites, and sponsored blog posts. Companies try to track and analyze every click of the mouse. Businesses work hard to stay present on the customer’s screen. They use cookies and other bits of technical code that remember visitors in order to retarget them even when they have left the company’s site. (Source)

As a result, customers are increasingly voicing privacy concerns about the recording of all this information which in some cases has led to identity and personal data theft. Millions of people a day now have taken refuge in a very private place that exists until now in a shadowy corner of the Internet: Tor (The Onion Router). It was originally set up by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory ten years ago to let U.S. agents communicate secretly around the world. (Source) More recently, it has become a popular way for thieves, drug traffickers and terrorists groups to communicate anonymously.

Tor’s hidden services feature allow users to communicate information and publish websites without revealing their location. It is now used by large corporations to keep their competitive analysis and board level decisions private. General consumers have started to use Tor to protect themselves on a public Wi-Fi connection (Source).  Some also use it to combat discrimination when e-commerce sites show a price based on geography or number of visits. 

Consumers want to use Tor to hide their online identify and location, but still interact with all commerce websites. To access the Tor network, users simply need to download its browser, which is free and open sourced for all desktop and mobile platforms. However, most social media and retail sites have blocked Tor users because it prevents them from utilizing cookies and disables Java scripts to track them. For example, using the Tor private search engine, Start Page, most sites do not load or come up very slowly because the Ixquick proxy servicer is used for privacy. However, Amazon does employ Google AdWords on this search page in hopes of getting customers to go directly to their site without a proxy.

With Tor traffic expected to reach almost ten million a day, corporations are now looking at it as an new way to reach prospective consumers (Source). Many are unblocking the Tor browser’s access to their site. Facebook began offering Tor users a method to connect anonymously (Source). (www.facebookcorewwwi.onion ) It seems that Twitter is also starting to let Tor browsers use the social media site without verification (Source). Reddit has donated over $82,000 to help fund Tor (Source). Given growing privacy concerns, the Tor browser may be the future for all consumer web surfing because it allows users to decide if they want to disclose their location and other personal information to be tracked. Some of this can be turned off with other browsers, but most users are not sophisticated enough to be able to do this correctly.

As privacy issues escalate, many online retailers will be forced away from traditional marketing tactics fed by cookie technology or risk losing customers when they go into stealth mode. This trend will reinforce good online marketing techniques:

  1. Ask prospects and customers to opt in to be contacted by your company again. Dont abuse the privilege.
  2. When contacting them, add value, just dont sell them your products. Publish content that they value, not just an online product or services catalog.
  3. Build a trustful relationship over a long period of time so they think of your company when they are ready to buy.
  4. Build social media connections and community with your customers that they want to participate in regularly.

What will your business do when your customer goes into stealth mode on the Internet?

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