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1/28/2010
06:07 PM
Jake Widman
Jake Widman
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RatePoint Helps Resolve Customer Disputes

Customer review and survey service RatePoint claims that businesses who use its online testimonial services can resolve 90 percent of customer disputes before they turn into negative reviews. That's one of several pieces of advice the company offers small businesses trying to manage their online reputations.

Customer review and survey service RatePoint claims that businesses who use its online testimonial services can resolve 90 percent of customer disputes before they turn into negative reviews. That's one of several pieces of advice the company offers small businesses trying to manage their online reputations.RatePoint, which helps businesses set up online comment and review pages and to solicit feedback and testimonials from their customers, advises small businesses to be proactive in seeking customer comments. Research by Nielsen has indicated that 70% of consumers trust online customer reviews -- the only recommendations they trust more are those from people they actually know. And a survey from the National Association of Retail Marketing Services found that a single complaining customer can drive away ten others. According to RatePoint, businesses can improve their percentage of good reviews by providing an area for customers to post comments -- which also gives them a chance to address issues before they turn into negative reviews.

"In order to know what customers are thinking, businesses have to ask, according to RatePoint CEO Neal Creighton. "Many companies fear negative feedback, but failing to recognize and fix negative customer experiences can harm a small business, its reputation and its future sales. A negative experience is an opportunity for small businesses to display superb customer service and communicate with customers."

Creighton recommends three steps a small business can take to strengthen its online reputation: first, make sure their e-mail and mailing addresses are easy to find on their website; second, add an area for comments; and third, regularly survey their customers via e-mail to solicit feedback. RatePoint offers services and technical support for the last two steps.

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One advantage to using a RatePoint commenting area is that negative comments can be intercepted before they get posted. Not that they're censored: rather, RatePoint provides a way for the business to address the customer complaint before the negative review goes up. If the customer is satisfied with the resolution of the issue, they can either amend their review or not post it at all. But if the business doesn't respond or doesn't successfully address the customer's concerns, the review gets posted.

"Customers want to know they are being heard, and weve developed a system for small businesses to make that happen," says Creighton. "Proactively resolving issues together with a customer is more effective and less costly than reacting after negative feedback is already posted publicly." RatePoint claims a 90 percent success rate in resolving customer disputes this way.

RatePoint offers several pricing tiers for its services. Businesses can survey and collect reviews from up to 125 customers for free, and there's a 30-day trial for the tools to publish the reviews online. For more customers or for publishing the reviews past the 30-day trial, plans range from $9.95/month for up to 250 e-mail addresses up to $349.95/month for 100,000 e-mail addresses. Reduced annual pricing and discounts for nonprofits are also available.

Those interested in finding out more about managing their online reputation can download RatePoint's free e-book, The Small-Business Owners Guide to Building a Great Reputation Online.

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