[ by Josh Kruk, Uncle Bob’s Self Storage ]
Remember that old game Telephone? Someone starts with a simple phrase, tells it to the next person and by the time it reaches the last person in line, the message has completely transformed.
If you don’t manage your digital reputation, this is what exactly what could happen to the message about your store or brand. It’s in your best interests to know who is saying what about you and where. There are steps you can take to get out in front of potential problems and give customers the right impression about your self-storage facility.
The first place to check is Google, naturally. Check all of your stores. Make sure your Plus Local pages are current and correct. Then check those reviews. Remember, when customers look for your store, those reviews show up prominently. So if you have mostly negative reviews and your competition has positive reviews, they’re ahead in the digital reputation game. Just check out this search engine results page: which business would you click on first? Most likely the one with 111 reviews and a high-quality score.
If you get a bad review, you can respond publicly. Before you do this, however, consider the words of Mad Men’s Don Draper. The mythical advertising genius once said, “If you don’t like what people are saying about you, change the conversation.” There is value in that.
Our strategy is to never get into a publicly visible debate with a dissatisfied customer. Assuming the customer is right (aren’t they always?), we apologize and ask them to contact us with further details via another channel, such as email or phone. Dealing with them directly helps us get to the root of the problem, handle it carefully, and if possible convince the customer to remove or edit their negative review. Timeliness is key: responding to a bad review two months after the fact is ineffective.
One way to stay ahead is to set up Google Alerts. Enter the term you want to monitor–most likely your store or brand name. Whenever that term is used and Google picks it up, they’ll email you or compile it in a list for you to check later.
Given the amount of review sites out there, this is an easy way to keep up with chatter about you across the web. A site like Merchant Circle may not get as much traffic as Yelp, but that doesn’t mean it can be ignored.
Twitter searches will keep you up-to-date in real time. You’ll need a Twitter client like TweetDeck to set this up. It’s basically the same as Google Alerts: anytime someone mentions your name or whatever search term you choose on Twitter, it shows up in a TweetDeck list for you to review.
Keep in mind: a customer doesn’t have to mention your brand’s Twitter handle here for it to show up, just your business’ name. The difference between this and reviews is that for a review, someone made it a point to go to your page and write about you. On Twitter, they weren’t necessarily looking for a response. So if you respond to every single comment, it can start to feel a little too much like Big Brother in 1984. Be measured when you respond on Twitter.
It’s not all doom and gloom here, though. If you know you have a customer who had a good experience with you, ask them to write you a review. You can then use this positive buzz to boost your digital reputation.
When we learn that a customer has reviewed us positively on Google or just sends us an email raving about the service they received, we pursue them for a testimonial. We collect these testimonials and add them to our Uncle Bob’s customer review page. We’ve found that these customers are happy to agree to Uncle Bob’s publishing their comments
So as you can see, proper reputation management can be the difference between a customer clicking on your page or skipping past it. Word-of-mouth is much quicker and more powerful in the digital age!