In today’s digital-first age of doing business, a brand’s online reputation can mean the difference between making a sale and having that customer go to a competitor. The trouble is, that customer isn’t likely to tell you they were considering going to you – they’ll just work with somebody else.
In the Nov. 5 SEMA360 presentation “How to Protect Your Brand’s Online Reputation,” hosted by Impact Social Media’s Corey Perlman, he explained how the most important step a business owner can take to motivate customers to come to their shop is to create a process for positive feedback with existing customers. This means every business should train its team to never let a verbal testimonial go unpublished, he says.
“Stop worrying so much about negative [reviews] and start worrying about losing the people who love you who aren’t posting online,” Perlman advised. “People are more motivated when they’re unhappy than when they’re happy. So, our job as businesses is to create a process to make sure that all satisfied customers are actively talking about their experience with us online.”
One way to do this is for business owners to spell out all of the details of their request to the customer, Perlman said. He suggested giving a happy customer a physical card or sending them an email with instructions on what to do and where to go, including links to specific websites.
That’s not to say handling negative reviews aren’t important, too. However, Perlman suggested responding to all negative reviews in the most diplomatic, empathetic way possible.
“Never try to argue. As hard as it is to do, it very rarely ever helps the business,” Perlman said. “My No. 1 piece of advice initially is to sleep on it. Never respond out of emotion.”
If possible, Perlman suggests, the business should do their best to explain how they’ll solve the issue in their response. However, if the issue is unsolvable, too personal or too complicated, he says the best thing to do is to take the issue offline.
“No matter what, I would always respond to reviews,” Perlman advised. “If they’re positive say thank you, and if they’re negative try to fix it or take it offline. Say, ‘hey, I’m really sorry this happened to you. Give me your phone number or email address, and I’m going to call you and try to figure this out.’”
Perlman added that COVID-19 has, in many cases, given business owners a great opportunity to “work on our business instead of in our business.” As nearly half of all Google searches are for local businesses, Perlman suggested business owners Google their own businesses to see what customers are seeing.
“You’re going to find social media profiles that you’ve forgotten about. You’re going to see some directories that you’re a part of that you didn’t know you’re a part of. Or, you’ll find some directories where you have no reviews at all,” Perlman said. “What you’re going to find is what prospects are finding when they’re determining whether to do business with you.”
It is especially important to have a positive, consistent brand image on websites that show up on the first page of Google results, as Perlman noted 92% of searchers will choose a business based on that page’s results.
“If I go to your Facebook page, your website, your Snapchat or Instagram, will I be impressed?” Perlman asked.
To see Perlman’s entire presentation and learn more about protecting your business’s online reputation, go to www.sema360.com and register for SEMA360. To find his session, click the “Industry Education” tab on your dashboard.