With today’s digital reliance stronger than ever, it’s impossible to ignore how your online reputation plays a role in the public perception of your auto shop. Consumers are putting more and more trust in online reviews — almost equaling the weight they give personal recommendations from friends and family. According to a 2013 BrightLocal Consumer Review Survey, 79 percent of consumers place equal weight on both online reviews and personal recommendations.
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While online reputation management remains a thorn in the side of many shop owners, adopting a head-in-the-sand attitude to customer reviews will hurt your bottom line in the end. Can you afford to ignore it? Most likely, the answer is no. Luckily, shop owners can take matters into their own hands and positively influence how they’re perceived online.
It’s essential to have profiles on each of the foremost social networks and review sites. Note: If you’re a franchisee, check your corporate policies before proceeding. Claim your shop’s listings on major review sites like Yelp and Google Plus and remain active on content sites like Facebook and Twitter. Just “having the lights on” isn’t enough. Establish your presence now, lest you be forced to learn the ins and outs of a network should crisis strike.
More importantly, creating profiles allows you to tweak your notification settings, allowing you to choose to be alerted about customer activity involving your business listing or page. Doing so gives you the opportunity to respond in a timely manner.
There are thousands of social networks and review sites out there — not to mention millions of blogs — so, obviously, you’ll need to prioritize your time and resources. If a particular review site doesn’t show up until Page 20 of your Google search results, then you shouldn’t pull out your hair over it. You can catch many new mentions by setting a Google Alert for your business name and city, and free social listening tools like Topsy can help notify you of the occasional mention coming up from the depths of the Internet.