Managing Your Online Reputation: Top 3 Strategies

By Alexi Venneri

Strategies for Managing Your Online Reputation

 

Are you a pro at man­ag­ing your online rep­u­ta­tion? We all know that an unsat­is­fied cus­tomer is more like­ly to share their expe­ri­ences than a hap­py cus­tomer. As the say­ing goes, “a hap­py cus­tomer tells a friend, while the unhap­py cus­tomer tells the world.”

The ground­break­ing Auto­mo­tive Deal­er­ship Social Media and Online Rep­u­ta­tion Study (Octo­ber 2012) high­lights the impor­tance of social net­works and review sites in the car buy­ing process. With review sites impact­ing online traf­fic more than ever before, deal­ers should have a sol­id plan to man­age their online rep­u­ta­tion.

Based on work­ing with thou­sands of deal­ers nation­wide, these are the top three strate­gies that every deal­er­ship should con­sid­er imple­ment­ing:

1. Know the top sites and have a spe­cif­ic plan to man­age them.
The study revealed that the top four review sites used to deter­mine deal­er­ship selec­tion were Cars.com, Edmunds, Yelp and Google+ Local. While these sites may seem obvi­ous to most deal­ers, many deal­ers do not ful­ly claim or enhance their list­ings on the top sites. Deal­ers not pay­ing atten­tion to these sites lose the oppor­tu­ni­ty to mar­ket their deal­er­ship through respons­es and the chance to save a poten­tial­ly unhap­py cus­tomer.

Tip: Mon­i­tor­ing and respond­ing to reviews should be assigned to a spe­cif­ic per­son in the deal­er­ship. Put the task on a cal­en­dar, such as your month­ly adver­tis­ing cal­en­dar, and require them sub­mit reports on the sta­tus of each site includ­ing your num­ber of reviews, star rat­ing, and how quick­ly they respond­ed to a review. If you are con­sid­er­ing work­ing with a full-ser­vice ven­dor, require they also sub­mit a month­ly report to you with the same details. Ensure that the respons­es are per­son­al and that they noti­fy you of both the reviews and the respons­es.

2. Have a plan to reg­u­lar­ly sur­vey cus­tomers and direct hap­py cus­tomers to review sites.

Estab­lish a for­mal and con­sis­tent process for sur­vey­ing your cus­tomers, if you haven’t done this already. This doesn’t have to mean flood­ing your cus­tomers with yet anoth­er email, but take a look at what you are already send­ing them post-sale/ser­vice today and adjust the con­tent. Not only should you thank them for their busi­ness, but also ask them to take a quick sur­vey to give you feed­back. Then ask the hap­pi­est cus­tomers (or all cus­tomers, if you are open to full trans­paren­cy) to post a pub­lic review about their expe­ri­ence.

It is imper­a­tive to con­tin­u­al­ly encour­age your good cus­tomers to pro­vide more reviews. This will increase the num­ber of reviews and insure the reviews are fresh and cur­rent. Car buy­ers want to see a lot of reviews; as a mat­ter of fact 81 per­cent of car buy­ers in the study said that a review site rat­ing must have five or more reviews to be cred­i­ble.

Tip: Work with a ven­dor that will help sur­vey your cus­tomers and work close­ly with your inter­nal teams to ensure that unhap­py cus­tomers are con­tact­ed and the hap­pi­est ones are invit­ed to leave a pub­lic review. There are many “smart sur­vey” options avail­able to deal­ers. Some ven­dors are approved for co-op or addi­tion­al funds from man­u­fac­tur­ers help­ing to cov­er any exter­nal cost.

3. Use both review site and sur­vey feed­back to improve deal­er­ship oper­a­tions.

It is human nature to dread neg­a­tive sur­veys results or reviews, but in real­i­ty you should embrace them. Whether the con­tent is total­ly accu­rate or not is irrel­e­vant; per­cep­tion is real­i­ty in the mind of the cus­tomer and now their ver­sion of “real­i­ty” might be on a pub­lic review site for the rest of the world to see. Take all feed­back and look for trends and oppor­tu­ni­ties to improve. Is the same staff mem­ber con­tin­u­al­ly men­tioned in neg­a­tive reviews? Is there an oper­a­tions issue that could be fixed, result­ing in more hap­py cus­tomers?

Tip: Com­pil­ing reviews and sur­vey feed­back should be assigned to a senior man­ag­er on your team. They should be required to review all highlights/trends in your exec­u­tive staff meet­ings. Make it a team effort to fix the high lev­el issues and ensure that each man­ag­er report back on spe­cif­ic res­o­lu­tions to each con­cern.

Pro­gress­ing in any of these areas will help your deal­er­ship improve its online rep­u­ta­tion, increase the num­ber of hap­py cus­tomers and ulti­mate­ly help to sell more cars.

Alexi Ven­neri is cofounder, CMO, and COO-social media of Dig­i­tal Air Strike and can be con­tact­ed through the web­site.

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