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, 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.