Reputations are made - and destroyed - online. One bad tweet can cause an international uproar. A poor-tasting image on Facebook can make someone lose a job.
Simply put, your online reputation is everything. That goes as much for businesses as it does for individuals.
Your auto shop has an online presence, whether you intended it to or not. Hopefully, you're staying on top of your online presence, so that you can help shape your reputation into something positive. But far too many auto shop owners aren't engaged or active with their online presence. These owners are putting their reputation - and business - at risk.
Consider yourself warned.
Know your online presence
As we said earlier, your business has an online presence, whether you know it or not. The standard presence is, of course, your website. But that's not the only place your auto shop can (and likely will) appear. Other online sources where you may appear include:
- Angie's List
Some of these channels - like Facebook and Twitter - are the result of your deciding to create a profile. But others, like Yelp, Google and Angie's List, can include your business without your knowing. That's why it's absolutely vital that you remain in the know about where and how your business is being talked about and reviewed online. Also, just because you have decided not to create and manage a Facebook page for your shop does not mean that people are not talking about you on Facebook.
Actively participate with your audience
One of the greatest benefits of social media and online reviews is it gives business owners the ability to communicate directly with customers and prospects.
Take advantage of this by spending time on review sites like Yelp and Angie's List. Read over customer reviews, and be sure to respond to favorable ones with a thank you. The few minutes it takes to respond to each positive review is well worth the investment, as your customers will consider you wholly invested in their opinion.
But you also shouldn't just ignore the negative reviews. Every business has them. In fact, it'd likely look odd to only have 5-star perfect reviews. No business is perfect. When you come across a negative review, what we recommend you do is take a moment to digest the message. Don't respond immediately, as you may be responding from an emotional state.
Once you're settled, be sure to respond in a non-threatening, non-defensive manner. Be positive and upbeat, and never accuse the reviewer of any wrongdoing. Remember, that reviewer isn't the only person who'll read your response. The entire community will judge you on how you handle negative feedback.
Your goal here isn't to necessarily win back the disgruntled client (although that may be possible), but to ensure that others see you in a positive light. In fact, a negative review could work in your favor, depending on how well you respond to it.
Try to reach out to this client by phone, so that you can take the conversation offline (where privacy is easier to come by). If you're able to settle the concern, consider asking the customer to revise the review.
Be proactive- create profiles to manage your online reputation
While sites like Yelp and Angie's List are review-based sites, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter also serve as a way for customers to voice their thoughts and reviews. Be sure to create profiles for your business so that you can give customers a site to turn to for their reviews. Then, approach each reviewer as we discussed above.
These social media sites have the power of becoming community discussion areas for your customers and prospects, while also helping you to cement your online reputation.
Also, be sure to set up your Google My Business page to make it easier for your customers to make reviews on the world's most dominant search engine.
Remember, once something's online, it can never be taken down. If you're ever uncertain about a communication you're about to publish, ask someone else to review it. Try your best to read your message like the customer, to make sure that the tone you're trying to portray is clear and, of course, positive.