7 Management Lessons from Kickstarter

The Coolest Cooler In 2009, Kickstarter began a crowd funding site that not only provided aspiring entrepreneurs a forum to introduce their ideas to the world, but also allowed everyone else to become investors and support projects that interested them. Since then, over 66,000 independent projects have been created and individuals have given more than $1 billion to various Kickstarter campaigns (Kickstarter, About Us).

This summer, one campaign skyrocketed to success and is on track to break the record for the most funded campaign in Kickstarter's history (OregoneLive, 7/10/14). What idea inspired thousands of people to freely invest their hard-earned cash? A product that promises to upgrade the summertime staple of the cooler: "The Coolest." Coolest was a campaign started by Ryan Grepper who hoped to raise $50,000; Grepper surpassed his fundraising goal and now has over $7.5 million and nearly a month left on his campaign to go even higher (Kickstarter, Coolest Cooler). Kicktraq, which tracks the trends of campaigns, estimates that Coolest will raise around $19 million (Kicktraq).

Grepper wanted to reinvent a product that he thought needed a 21st-century makeover. His upgraded cooler includes a built-in battery-powered blender, waterproof speakers that play music via Bluetooth, a USB charging station, and numerous other perks. He rapidly gained the support of thousands of people, some of whom have pledged up to $2,000.

Grepper's is a "cool" success story to be sure, but there are valuable management lessons to review as well -- about how people decide what (and who) they'll invest their time, energy, and resources supporting.

Lesson 1: People will pledge loyalty (and take risks), but only for what they believe in.
Investors voluntarily fund Kickstarter campaigns because they believe in the project. Campaigns fund future product development, so people might invest thousands of dollars without the guarantee that the project will be completed. Investors are willing to take the risk because of their faith in the idea and the creators of the campaign. What your company produces or does should inspire the same kind of loyalty in your employees. Your staff might not be investing money, but they are investing time and energy. If they believe in what they're working toward, you'll discover unbelievable dedication.

Clear Vision and Measured GoalsLesson 2: You'll never win commitment without a clear vision and measured goals.
Successful Kickstarter campaigns specifically outline their vision, goals, and how they plan to achieve the promised results. Grepper presented his vision and outlined the engineering, manufacturing, and delivery schedule to his investors. If you want your employees to invest themselves, you first have to answer the question: Why should your employees care about what your company does and their role in the process? But it's not enough to stop there. You also need to outline the mutual goals and the steps needed to reach each one.

Lesson 3: You need to reward investment. But it doesn't have to be about money.
The Coolest offers tiered rewards for its investors, but these weren't always incentives that have to do with money. One reward for investment is having your name immortalized on Grepper's own Coolest. Grepper also offers one-on-one feedback sessions to discuss investors' own innovative ideas. As a manager, you can't ask for people's time, energy, and resources without also committing to reward their dedication. Think of compelling incentives for your employees -- and just like The Coolest, these incentives don't have to be expensive.

Lesson 4: Be honest about the challenges ahead.
The Coolest only exists today as a prototype. Grepper understood that the biggest hurdles to producing his idea would be manufacturing, product adjustments, and fulfillment. Your team's goals are going to encounter obstacles; anticipate and plan for them, while addressing them openly and transparently.

Active ParticipationLesson 5: Actively encourage questions, ideas, and participation.
Grepper encouraged questions and insights into his product. When investors asked about the location of his manufacturing, the use of recycled materials, the power of the battery in the blender, Grepper addressed their concerns. When he was able to add color options, Grepper had investors vote for their favorite choices. When one investor suggested installing a solar panel as an energy source, Grepper responded to the idea. Get your people involved and ask for their opinions; you never know who might have the next great idea tucked away in their brain.

Lesson 6: Celebrate when goals are met and continually stretch further.
The Coolest reached its first fundraising goal within 36 hours of the start of its campaign. But Grepper's success didn't make him complacent. As more money was raised, Grepper added color options, the possibility of a solar panel, and the guarantee of a one-year warranty for the product. When goals are met, celebrate and reward your team, but don't let the growth stop there. Continually look for areas of improvement and ways to innovate.

Don't Give UpLesson 7: Don't give up.
Grepper first launched his Coolest campaign in 2013, but his first attempt failed, and he did not reach his funding goal. But with a new design, new marketing tactics, and campaigning in the summer versus the winter, Grepper soared above and beyond his original goal and is on track to be the highest-funded Kickstarter campaign to date. Don't let failure deter you. Instead, let mistakes and hindrances teach you lessons about how to succeed the next time around.

Readers: Which of these lessons resonates with you the most? How can you start applying it to your own team?

Would You Risk Being Fired for Your CEO?

Market Basket employees protest their CEO's dismissal Last week, eight employees of Market Basket, a Boston-based grocery chain, were fired for protesting the ousting of their CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas. Demoulas was fired and removed from the company's board in June after an internal dispute. Over the weekend, more than 2,500 of Market Basket's employees protested the decision (Business Insider, 7/21/14), and other employees working at Market Basket's warehouse refused to deliver goods as a form of dissent until Demoulas was reinstated (Boston.com 7/21/14).

Why would Market Basket employees risk their livelihoods for their CEO? Employees' trust in Demoulas' leadership propelled their support for him, even if it meant losing their jobs. Staff at Market Basket receive strong benefits, including a profit-sharing program, and historically the company has promoted from within and rewarded hard work and longevity (Boston.com 7/21/14). Employees' positive experiences and high regard for Demoulas stemmed from their confidence in his decisions and leadership. Trust in an organization comes down to whether an employee feels they can rely on their managers. Market Basket workers were so certain they could rely on Demoulas as a leader that they risked losing their jobs to keep him as their CEO.

Elsewhere, only 43% of employees trust their CEO and only one in five people trust their business leaders to make ethical decisions (Edelman Trust Barometer, 2014). Basic trust in CEOs is rare, making this kind of public support almost unheard of. But why is this kind of faith in an organizational leader so uncommon? Most employees don't feel as if their work is recognized or that they have opportunities to grow. Only 49% of employees are satisfied with the growth and development opportunities, and only 47% are satisfied with their companies' recognition practices. Workers report having more trust in their company when the organization acknowledges employee contributions, provides opportunities for involvement, and communicates effectively (American Psychological Association, 4/23/14).

Trust is not just influenced by executives or the C-suite. Any Manager can create an impact and foster an environment of trust by following a few simple trust principles:

  1. Your team is more likely to trust you if you first extend trust to them. You can't expect anyone to trust you if you refuse to put your confidence their performance, results, and integrity.
  2. Don't keep your employees in the dark. Share critical information with them in a timely manner. Make sure your team has the knowledge they need to effectively perform their job.
  3. Pay attention and recognize good work. Don't ever assume your employees know intuitively they are doing a good job. Observe their accomplishment and recognize them... publicly. (Conversely, if you need to provide critical feedback, do that behind closed doors.)

The Market Basket employees' loyalty to Demoulas became national news because trust in leaders has become a rare sentiment. If other organizations want to garner similar loyalty, they'll first need to establish organizational trust.

Readers, do you trust the company you work for? How would you rate your trust on a scale of 1-5 (5 being high level of trust)?

Employee Engagement Starts with the Manager

Only 30% of U.S. workers are engaged in their work, according to Gallup's "State of the American Workplace" report (Gallup, 10/2013). That means only 3 out of every 10 of your employees are aligned with your organization's values and actively working toward executing company goals. "Engagement" has become a buzzword and might seem too vague or ambiguous to make much of a tangible impact, but a host of respected business resources have proven the direct correlation between engagement and productivity. Motivated employees generate 40% more profit (Taleo, 6/2012) and are more loyal to their employers. Only 18% of highly engaged employees said they were likely to leave their company within the next two years compared to 40% for disengaged employees. (Towers Watson, 6/2012).

Clearly, every company should strive to build an engaged workforce. The best strategy for enhancing engagement is by improving the relationship between employees and their managers. Managers have the single biggest impact on an employee's engagement, being accountable for 70% of variance in employee engagement (Harvard Business Review, 3/13/14). A great manager can transform an employee's mindset from "I'm willing to do the job I'm asked to do" to "I am driven to execute goals and produce results."

An exceptional manager will build a focused, productive team; a poor manager will have employees that sabotage the work or simply check out on the job. Using the 3 strategies below, managers can engage their workforce and build a staff that generates more and sticks around longer.

  1. Communicate expectations of excellence -- Setting low expectations is a self-fulfilling prophecy; if a manager expects low quality, they will probably get it. But if a manager expects excellence, communicates those expectations to employees, and involves their teams in crafting a vision and setting realistic goals, people will rise to the occasion.
  2. Focus effort on work that has a purpose -- Employees that understand the purpose behind their work find the work more interesting and desirable. Understanding why their work matters and how it has an impact will help employees fully "buy-in" to their job.
  3. Allow autonomy when possible -- Autonomy is the opposite of micro-management. When they are able, managers should allow employees flexibility in their scheduling, timing, and methodology. Granting sovereignty increases employee trust in their manager and ownership over the final results.

    Readers: How have you seen managers affect employee engagement? Have you ever seen a great manager inspire their team? How about a poor manager who de-motivates their whole staff?

Avoiding Discrimination Claims

Would you have guessed that nationwide, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had an estimated 93,727 individual filings in 2013? These discrimination claims can cover any of the protected categories, such as sex, race, or religion. This translates to extra costs, paperwork, and innumerable headaches for employers. According to Jon Hyman's column "The Practical Employer" (Workforce.com, 6/19/14), it can cost an employer up to $250,000 to take a case to a jury trial, and that doesn't include the cost of a settlement, which may be much more.

We all want to enjoy a workplace that is free from discrimination, and there are things managers can do to prevent claims. During the hiring process and on the job, the employees' protected rights should be at the forefront of consciousness. By following some of these best practices, the hassle of lost time and money due to claims can be reduced or prevented.

It should go without saying that during the interview process, managers must treat all candidates fairly. Questions that might seem harmless when making conversation might veer off and become inappropriate. Personal questions that delve into family planning should be avoided. According to "Conducting Job Interviews" (NOLO.com), asking a female candidate her plans about having children could lead her to believe that she experienced gender discrimination if she does not get the job. Even if the conversation is friendly, be mindful of the way a candidate might interpret the question.

A good policy, according to "Avoid Disability Discrimination When Hiring New Employees" (NOLO.com), is to ask questions that make sure that the candidate is able to do the job for which they are applying. These are questions that focus on abilities, rather than disabilities, or other factors. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects workers during an interview and specifies the types of questions employers should not ask (EEOC.gov).

Once the candidate is on the job, the manager should set a good example by following the laws and maintaining a discrimination-free workplace. A big step in avoiding claims is to make sure that employees are comfortable reporting issues before they escalate into official claims. Managers should not engage in discriminatory behaviors, and exercising an open-door policy is helpful to allow employees to voice their concerns. If an issue comes to light, actions can be taken to stop what is happening before it persists. If a complaint does reach the ears of the Human Resources Department, they can assist with how handle the situation before it further escalates.

Keep clear documentation of the facts, such as notes that you take during the hiring process, and honest reviews of the employees' work; this information may be needed later and should be kept accordingly. Keeping records about any incidents is also a good idea. Do not delete messages or misplace computer files that you may be called upon to provide. It is best to be organized ahead of time.

While a fool-proof anti-discrimination system doesn't exist, obvious pitfalls can be avoided. Provide basic Human Resources training to employees and let them know what is expected to keep interactions lawful. HR Training materials, either videos or written handouts, model acceptable workplace behavior. Innocent comments or conversations can be perceived differently by a person in a protected class. A little prevention goes a long way, and the sooner that managers become aware of any problems, the sooner that steps can be taken to make the situation right for everyone.

Readers: Did your company provide you with training for ensuring a discrimination-free workplace?

State of the Economy and June 2014 Jobs Report

The U.S. economy has seen tough times over the past few years, and speculation as to its health and recovery is in the news every day because Americans want to know how secure their jobs are, what they will be able to afford for themselves and their families, and what to expect for the future of their dollars. In recent weeks and months, optimism for the health of our economy has seemed to wane.

For the past two years, our economic growth rate has remained at a measly 2 percent. Economists were confident at the beginning of this year that we would finally boost that growth to 3 percent, but in mid-June, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reduced its estimate of 2.7 percent growth for 2014 to 2 percent (Bloomberg.com, 6/16/14). Although employers have added many jobs over the past few months, the long winter placed a strain on several industries, and experts are worried that climate change could present even more challenges to economic projections in the coming years.

Some experts say that the economy is doomed to never fully recover from the Great Recession in 2008. While it would seem as though the economy has rebounded greatly, the truth is that salaries and household incomes have not risen in years and many are still unemployed despite growing numbers of jobs added each month. Other economists maintain that full recovery is on its way, but will take more time than originally estimated due to the slow rate of growth (The New York Times, 6/11/14).

While this speculation, estimation, and evaluation continues among experts and politicians, the Economic Employment Situation for June 2014 had some unexpected positive news – with the economy creating a higher-than-expected 288,000 jobs and the unemployment rate falling to 6.1%, a six-year low. In addition, the May payroll number was revised upward.

Other news from the June Jobs Report included:

  • The number of long-term unemployed persons declined by nearly 300,000 and nearly 2% of the total unemployed.
  • Major industries with gains included professional and business services (+67,000), retail trade (+40,000), food services and drinking places (+33,000), health care (+21,000), financial activities (+17,000), transportation and warehousing (+17,000), and manufacturing (+16,000).
  • Temporary help services continued its upswing by gaining 10,000 jobs in June, which makes for a total gain of 216,000 over the past year.

Upon the news, the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke the 17,000-point barrier for the first time. Similarly, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were in the green. Some news outlets, like CNNMoney, claimed that this report was an indication "the American jobs recovery seems to have finally hit its stride" and also noted that rising pay rates, partially spurred on by some minimum wage increases in several states, have encouraged consumer and economic optimism (CNNMoney, 7/3/14).

Traditionally, the run-up to elections causes some economic uncertainty in the nation. We'll have to see if the optimism stemming from today's Jobs Report will stay high in the coming weeks and months.

Readers: Do you think the economy has recovered as much as it can already?

Hiring and Retaining in Your Company Culture

Does your company have a very strict dress code and behavioral guidelines? How about casual dress and a flexible schedule? Every company's culture is unique and there are nuances that will dictate which types of people will be comfortable – and happy – working on your team. Some employees prefer a very structured environment while for others, flexibility in dress, hours, and environment is the highest priority. Part of your duty as a manager is to communicate effectively about your company culture during the hiring process as well as manage these expectations with your team on a long-term basis.

Finding a new employee with the right skills and experience is important, but perhaps even more critical is hiring someone who will fit in. Hiring and training new employees takes time and effort, and it's hard enough knowing whether someone will be able to manage the tasks assigned to him after a few hours of interview conversation. Save yourself – and your new employee – the headache of creating additional turnover by eliminating as many of the unknowns as you can.

For example, it is easy to find candidates that would like to wear casual clothes to work every day, but what if your office wears business formal clothing every day? This is something your candidates would all like to know, and they will not often remember to ask about such details in the interview. As the hiring manager, you should be proactive about communicating these expectations upfront. Most candidates put on their best clothes for interviews but may not assume this is how they expect to dress every day. If your company requires suits and tailored dresses, mention it to those you interview when you are discussing details about the job. After all, your new employee will be spending a lot of time at the office, and some candidates will not wish to go further in the hiring process if they hear of a strict dress code.

Another expectation that should be communicated early on is the schedule and general social behavior expected of all employees. If you did not already include it in the job posting, the hours should be discussed in the interview. If your company hires those who can come into the office from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and flexible schedules are not an option, explain that early on. That way, someone who needs to leave every day by 3:00 to pick up their kids can remove themselves from consideration. Some offices also have guidelines for when to take lunches, when to speak with coworkers throughout the day, and what personal work can and cannot be done during the work day. Make this clear upfront.

Once you are confident that you have hired individuals who fit within your company's culture, take steps to ensure that they stay satisfied or else risk being blind-sided by employees leaving. One way to do this would be to take an employee satisfaction survey once or twice a year. This would allow employees to be honest about how the culture is working for them. You can even approach your higher-ups if you see trends and think some policies may be worth changing.

Another way to stay up-to-date on how your employees feel about company culture is to watch and listen. If your company wears business formal clothing, but Ted keeps showing up in sneakers or without a coat, he may be dissatisfied with the dress code even if he agreed to it early on. If he uses your conversation as a chance to complain, you could ask him if he is planning to abide by the code or if he has considered leaving over this policy. At least you would be prepared in case he decides that it is a deal-breaker. Other policies, such as the schedule, may prove more difficult for certain employees than they had originally thought. If this seems to be the case with any cultural policy at your workplace, speaking with these employees can help you and your senior leadership decide what policies may have room for improvement, or in some cases, which employees may not be the best fit.

Of course, you want high-performing staff members who can do a great job for your company, but even the best and brightest may not be happy with your company's culture. This is why it is best to be very transparent while hiring and enforce policies with your current employees equally, and if you feel your company's policies are in line, you can build a talented team that appreciates the culture too.

Readers: Would you work for a company whose culture was very different from what you prefer? What would make you overlook a culture that wasn't what you'd choose?

Managing During Employee Turnover

The time has come for one of your employees to move on to a better opportunity, move away to a new town, or even to quit out of the blue with no notice or idea of what went wrong. The joys of managing a great team sometimes come with these uncomfortable times of employee turnover, and it's your job to make sure the show goes on around your office as well as find someone new for the open position. This is never an easy process, but we have some tips for helping you get through this tough time.

Hopefully your employee leaving will give you at least two weeks' notice, which is the courteous thing to do. However, there are times when this is not possible. If illness, a family emergency, or another unexpected circumstance occurs, your employee may not be able to let you know in advance. Try to be understanding in this situation. Some employees will simply quit and leave right away. If that does happen, there is not much you can do, so avoid being angry as it will waste your time and energy. In cases of short notice, post your open position immediately or ask your staffing company to help you find someone for an urgent need. By now, you probably have some employees cross-trained on this person's job duties, so have them prioritize helping to cover this shortage for a few weeks. For tips on preparing for office absences, planned or unplanned, view our post from last year about documenting responsibilities (TradePost, 6/27/13).

For those employees who are able or considerate enough to give you two or more weeks' notice, talk with them about a priority list of things they can accomplish before they leave. If there is a big project Ben has been working on for a few weeks and you need that to be finished, make that a first priority. To put yourself in the best situation here, have a list of "Need to haves" and then a list of "Nice to haves." That way, the important things can get done, but he can help more if time permits. Don't forget to have your exiting employee pass off anomalies and inconsistencies that go along with the job. If Sally has encountered some special circumstances in her role, make sure that she documents these and cross-trains her back-up on these before leaving.

After you have squared away your team with their extra job duties during the transitional time, take a look at your schedule. By now, you have probably received a call from your staffing provider and have seen some résumés from them or from your online posting. You are beginning the hiring process, so make sure that you have a great handle on what your schedule looks like. Some meetings or projects may have to take a back seat for the next week or two as you schedule interviews and meet with your best candidates. As you interview candidates, it will be enticing to find someone as quickly as possible, even if they are not the best fit. Remember that some employee turnover is actually caused by the lack of a thorough hiring process, so do not put your team in the situation to lose someone again soon – it will be uncomfortable to spend extra time finding the right person, but it will pay off in the long run.

Finally, in times of employee turnover, emotions can run high. Remember to keep calm and to help your staff stay calm by providing plenty of guidance and reminders that it is a transition that will not last long. Do your best to find the right person for your open position and to be understanding of your exiting employee. This is not an easy time, but if you remain grounded during this process, your team can make a smooth transition.

Readers: What is your first thought when a team member quits?

Smart Recruiting Techniques

TradePost recently discussed the change in the hiring market that shows job seekers becoming more confident again as the unemployment rate drops and many industries continue to add jobs (TradePost, 5/22/14). Fewer job seekers are responding to each job posting, so many companies are going to further lengths to fill their open positions. More strategic recruiting is needed at this time, and some companies are making the process easier for candidates so as to attract passive talent as well as those currently seeking new jobs.

There are still hiring managers who believe that they will receive at least a few good résumés for any position for which they advertise. This might be true, but it depends heavily on where it is advertised, the area where the job is located, and the level of the position. If you have ever advertised an entry-level position, you likely received many more interested applicants as the job has few necessary qualifications. However, have you tried advertising for a high-level or specialist position? If so, you probably received a couple or few very qualified applications along with some inquiries that led to nothing.

How are companies finding these talented professionals, whether they are less experienced or high-level superstars? One major way is through mobile recruiting. Now all of the major career sites have mobile apps, mobile-friendly layouts, and they offer a way to stay connected with job alerts. Many companies, including The Select Family of Staffing Companies, have jumped on this bandwagon and have seen great success – a recent study by Glassdoor reports that 89% of job seekers use their mobile devices to search for new jobs (Glassdoor, 5/13/14).

Another recruiting technique is to look for talent where you already know talent. Many companies are asking for employee referrals and often will not post a job until they have already looked for qualified candidates with which their own employees are acquainted. Some companies, especially staffing agencies, also keep a database of qualified applicants should they have a new position open up. Zappos, an online shoe retailer, has decided to do just this so that they will have a community of applicants already interested in the company (NextAvenue.org, 6/3/14). This will make it easy for them to search résumés depending on the jobs that open.

Finally, the best recruiting technique used by companies that locate top talent is to use real recruiters. Many large corporations use a faction of their Human Resources departments specifically for recruiting, but smaller companies that do not need full-time recruiters often look to temporary agencies to help fill their needs. Recruiters are highly trained and experienced professionals with one job – to find great people! Those companies should already be up on the latest recruiting techniques so they can get candidates in front of you faster.

Recruiting talent can be difficult to do. There are so many job seekers that may have the qualifications you want, but finding them is not easy. As technology advances and job searching changes, staying up to date on recruiting is the mark of a great company. Also remember that polishing your company reputation is key when searching for new employees. For tips on maintaining that shiny image in the eye of the public, see our recent post, Managing Your Online Reputation.

Readers: How were you recruited for your current company?

May 2014 Jobs Report

The United States economy added 217,000 jobs in May while the unemployment rate remained at 6.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employment Situation Summary. The number of long-term unemployed persons remained at about 3.4 million and accounted for 34.6% of the total unemployed.

Major industries with gains in May included professional and business services (+55,000), health care and social assistance (+55,000), food services drinking places (+32,000), and transportation and warehousing (+16,000). Temporary help services continued its upswing by gaining 14,000 jobs in May, which makes for a total gain of 224,000 over the past year.

Although manufacturing did not add a significant number of jobs this past month, its gain of 105,000 jobs over the past year is promising. Other industries, such as mining and logging, construction, retail, and government employment changed very little during the month of May.

Managing Your Online Reputation

Have you Googled your company recently? What did you see? It is likely that someone has written some reviews about your business, and there are several platforms on which to do so. Google, Yelp!, Yahoo, and even Facebook are just a few of the sites consumers use to rate your business. With online reviews becoming more accessible and prevalent, businesses are beginning to implement strategies for managing their reputations online.

According to a recent study, 85% of consumers read online reviews to determine whether or not they will use a local business or service (BrightLocal, 2013). This means that at least a few customers are likely to be driven away if your online reputation is less than stellar. Unfortunately, disgruntled customers are often the most likely to leave a review online.

Luckily, strategies to help your business combat these negative reviews can also increase your business potential in the age of online sharing. The first strategy is to drown out the negative with lots of positive. The more positive recent reviews there are, the less likely a consumer is to judge your business solely on the negative reviews. In order to determine where your business needs work online, figure out where consumers are reviewing your business. You can do so by Googling your business name and by looking up your company on popular review sites (Hubspot, 10/23/12).

One way to gain positive reviews is to ask your loyal customers to consider writing a review. Encourage them to do this on the sites where you have the most negative comments. That said, be aware that many of these review sites will take down positive reviews if they seem solicited. Do not pay your customers for these reviews. The idea is not to bribe, but to receive honest, good feedback from those who love your business. You can also invite new customers to write reviews based on their first transaction with your company. If they are satisfied, they will likely have some great things to say.

Next, consider a strategy for responding to negative reviews. You should address these concerns directly and with professionalism. If you have a public relations employee or department, this could be a great job for them as they will know how to handle unhappy customers diplomatically. Invite these people to email more information to a customer service email and state that you are happy to address their concerns and would like to remedy the situation as best you can. Do not fall into the trap of defending your business in an aggressive manner; that is more of a turn-off to potential consumers than the negative review itself!

Finally, the best way to improve your reputation online is to fully understand where your customers are unsatisfied and fix the problems. If there is a common theme of poor phone customer service for your business, spend some time training the employees who answer the phones and offer incentives for excellent customer service. If your product is the chief complaint, reevaluate your current materials and services. Listening to your customers and adapting to their needs is the best way to build a loyal consumer base.

Your online reputation can change quickly, and it may be difficult to keep up with this aspect of your business. But if you spend the right amount of time and care on this situation, your company can see an excellent boost in new and returning business. Remember, your customers are not always right about their opinions, but what they say can alter the perception of many in the online community. Take this into consideration and approach online reviewers with care and professionalism.

Readers: Have you written a negative review online in the past 6 months?

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