Join the conversation
Bob McCann, Director of Education, ARI
August 14, 2012
Filed under Guest Blog
Last week, I “googled” the name of a well-known dealership and the word “reviews”. My perception is that its team does a great job. Unfortunately, the search results weren’t so glowing… The second listing was a customer who alleged paying for a boat in full with the promise of delivery three months later. Fast forward five months: He says he’s still waiting… Suffice it to say that such a review, whether exaggerated or not, should not be ignored.
People write about their experiences with your dealership, especially when they’re not happy. Your online reputation exists, whether or not you’re proactive about managing it. You might as well join – and stay on top of – the conversation to influence the dialogue, drive more sales your way, and prevent lost opportunities.
Claim your listing on Google Places, Bing Business Pages and Yahoo! Local. Make sure your listing is complete, as carefully chosen keywords will help increase local search engine rankings. Also, set up a Facebook Business Page, Twitter account and YouTube channel. These sites are popular top 10 listings for small business name searches.
If you’re willing to spend about $12 a month, Yext , the location software company, can get your business listing published on 35+ local search sites, including Yahoo, Yelp, Foursquare and others. You can personalize your profile with photos and specials, monitor reviews and track results.
Keep an eye on what’s being said. Review comments about your business name, key products and brands. You can set up free alerts on Google Alerts and Yahoo! Alerts to get an email every time there is an online mention related to your business. You can also use Twitter Search. Ready to do more? Take a look at 10 free tools to monitor your online buzz.
Nip them in the bud. Negative reviews are bound to happen, because either you could do better, or you’re faced with an impossible-to-please customer. One thing you don’t want to do is pretend they’re not there. People perceive the absence of a response as a sign of guilt.
- Don’t get offended. Instead, use the feedback as an opportunity to improve. Take the time to understand the actual situation between the online reviewer and your business, write a response as soon as possible, and if need be, correct the situation at your business to prevent additional negative reviews.
- The tough part… or not. Most people dread responding to online reviews for fear of creating a bigger problem. Fortunately, making your mea culpa may score some points with a disgruntled customer. Use this three-step process to write a response: 1) Appreciate the reviewer’s time and apologize; 2) Express your genuine desire to solve the problem and point out other positive reviews (if you have any) to show your commitment to complete customer satisfaction; 3) Explain how you corrected the situation to avoid future issues. Keep in mind that when you’re responding to a given customer, you’re also addressing other customers and potential buyers.
- Mitigate the impact of naysayers. Very few happy customers take the time to share their experience, yet most of them will, if you ask. It’s a numbers game. Extensive favorable reviews will help offset negative comments.
Your online reputation starts offline. The best way to avoid negative comments and ratings is to take exceptional care of every customer, every time. When that’s not enough, take a proactive role in influencing the conversation.
Bob McCann is Director of Education at ARI, a leading provider of technology-enabled business solutions for dealers, distributors and manufacturers in the marine, RV, powersports and outdoor power equipment industries. Products and services include eCommerce-enabled websites, lead generation, lead management, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, and eCatalogs (parts, garments, and accessories).
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