Gift Cards Are A Versatile Tool In A Business Owner’s Arsenal

While our previous blog article on gift cards explains how gift cards will improve your business, they can also help you avoid negative customer reviews. If you haven’t read our previous article, then here is a brief recap: By offering gift cards, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Not only do gift cards give you upfront cash flow and increase your profit potential, but they also increase word of mouth marketing by forming another ambassador of your brand in the gift card’s recipient. The best part is that offering gift cards often has no added cost to you. While the previous article focuses on the financial benefits of gift cards to your business, the rest of this article focuses on how gift cards can help you avoid negative customer reviews.

1. Avoid negative reviews by putting out fires as they start

As explained time and time again throughout our blog, bad reviews are dangerous, especially to the SMB. It only takes one to cause potential customers to give your competitors their business. In order to prevent unsatisfied customers from writing a negative review of your business, you could offer him or her a gift card. While this may feel like you are giving away your products and services for free, let’s think about the following scenario: A customer (let’s call him ‘Cranky Carl’) comes into your business and is unsatisfied with your services. Although you offer a quality product and great customer service, you seem to fall short in his eyes (we all know the type). In order to resolve his dissatisfaction, you offer him a $10 gift card. At this point, there are 3 different outcomes that could occur. In each situation, you avoid a negative customer review from Carl.

Outcome 1

Instead of never returning to your business, Carl gives you another chance because he has a $10 gift card. Waiting to see how his second visit goes, he does not write a review until he has returned to your business. As a result, you have the opportunity to offer him a better experience that will influence him into potentially writing a positive review or, at the very least, preventing him from writing a negative one. Financially, you benefit from the lifetime value of Carl (cranky as he may be) as a customer. Not only does Carl give you his business instead of your competitors, but he also might visit your business one, two, or three more times. He may even become a regular customer. In addition, he will most likely spend more or less than the value of the card. In fact, 65% of gift card holders spend 38% more than the value of the card (Gift Card Granny).

Outcome 2

In the second outcome, Carl never returns to your business. Therefore, he never redeems the $10 gift card. Nevertheless, you made an effort and Carl takes note of that. As such, he does not write a negative review of your business online. Since the $10 was never redeemed, you did not lose any money. In addition, by Carl not writing a negative review, your public image remains intact, which maintains your ability to compete for customers. Therefore, while you did not keep Carl as a future customer, you successfully prevented him from harming your business’ ability to attract new customers.

2. Paying reparations in the public forum

Let’s say you were not at your place of business during Cranky Carl’s visit. He complained to one of your employees, but he or she did not offer a $10 gift card to Carl for his troubles. Enraged that he had to wait five minutes for a fresh batch of iced tea (for example), he writes a negative review about the trials he endured while visiting your business. Such a review will bring your overall review rating down, placing you behind your competitors. In addition, potential customers will be wary of visiting your business due to the “poor service” they expect from your staff (thanks to Carl’s review). In situations like this one, you should make a public display of good faith by responding to Carl’s response and letting him know that you will send him an electronic gift card. Potential customers will take note of your efforts. In addition, Carl will most likely take down his negative review eventually and may even give your business another chance. Furthermore, the financial benefits received by keeping Carl as a customer apply in this situation just as they do in the first outcome of the previous section.

Have a plan for your ‘off’ days

While some customers will be more reasonable than Carl, there will always be customers who are dissatisfied despite your best efforts to provide a quality experience. In order to effectively manage such situations and avoid negative customer reviews, you need to have a plan for your ‘off’ days (it’s ok…they happen). One way to manage such situations is by offering gift cards to dissatisfied customers. Doing so benefits you financially and allows you to maintain your competitiveness long-term.

How We Can Help

At TAPLocal, we understand how helpful gift cards can be to business owners, which is why we recommend their issuance to our clients. By choosing us for your merchant services needs, you get our lowest cost guarantee and branded gift cards free of charge. We also offer reputation management services to help avoid negative reviews from customers like Cranky Carl. For more information, give us a call at 888 882 7996 or visit our reputation management webpage.

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