Think about the last time you had an issue with a purchase or product and had to spend 10 minutes going through automated menus, just to realize that you have pressed the wrong button! I’m not sure about you, but this process has motived me to throw my phone at the wall more than once. Now apply that same idea to the online world, where people are talking about businesses that they like or visit every day and more often than not, hearing nil from the business owner. Often times if they were to hear something, it is a robotic response to capture their e-mail address for marketing purposes or a business owner defending themselves against a negative review.
This is the rule, not the exception in the world of online marketing, but leaves business owners a simple way to set themselves apart from their competition. Just be a human being! Sounds simple, right? Just respond and stay in touch with your customers and follow the basic rules of conversation, when someone asks a question, answer it. Though it seems like this would be easy, it can become rather complicated if you do not have a good Online Reputation Management system in place. This is exactly what turns reviews sites and social media into, people “talking at” one another instead of “talking to” one another.
So what does it take? Certainly some automation is needed in an online marketing plan, but when it comes to interacting with your customers it should not be 100% automated. When someone leaves you a positive review on a big review site, thank them or make sure you have a process to get that done! Not some scripted, “Thanks _______ for visiting _________”, people see right through that and it does not separate you from anyone. Make it a real response, which address specific things they brought up in their review. These generic responses are expected from the “big boys”, but when people do business with a smaller business, they expect a certain level of responsiveness, which is why they are choosing to go local to begin with.
So how do you make this happen or what should you focus the most on when putting an Online Reputation Management system into action? Well if hiring someone to help is out of the question use these basic tips.
- Monitor – the major and relevant review sites. Pick the top 3-4 in your industry and make sure you have logins and commit to a response time for your customers. People expect timely responses these days so if 48 hours is the best you can do, fine. Just make sure and be as consistent as possible and remember you can’t win them all.
- Listen – on social media channels. Social is becoming more and more important and there are plenty of tools to assist with this process. Not only can this help with brining issues to light that you may have not been aware of, it can also be a possible lead generator depending on your business type. Responding when they think no one is listening will make you VERY memorable. –
- Track – across multiple platforms. Don’t get down in the dumps if your score is suffering on just one site, remember that people find out about your business lots of different ways. Just make sure you have a consistent process in place and you are on your way.
- Plan – what your responses will look like. Make sure that you have a good process in place to keep your responses consistent and level headed. Pick a responses strategy for 4-5 stars 2-3 stars and 1 star or the equivalent of each site. This will ensure a level headed responses and again remember there will be some that you just can’t win so don’t beat yourself up. People can see when other consumers are being irrational.
The marketplace here in San Diego, CA can be extremely competitive like many others. If you really want a way to set your SMB apart, have a great customer service approach online with Online Reputation Management strategies that work. You may be surprised what you learn about your own business and how much a simple human response can mean to your customer base in an increasingly automated world.