Someone out there is probably talking about your business as you read this. While a good number of conversations about your shop happen in person, a lot are happening online. And what is the biggest difference between online and in-person conversations? You can actually see what is being said about your business when they are in the digital space, and more importantly, you have the ability to join the conversation.
“It's important for shop owners to understand that whether you're active online or not, there are conversations being had about your business online,” explains Kesha Phillips, Digital Media Manager at Mighty Auto Parts. “And I would imagine that owners would want to be a part of those discussions.”
A majority of these conversations about your business are posted in the form of online reviews. In order to learn the best ways to respond to these reviews, NOLN sat down with Phillips to discuss some tips and tricks.
Why are online reviews so integral in the success of independent shops?
We're living in a day and age where people want to know that, as a consumer, their voices are being heard, and they want to feel like they are actually connecting with brands. The biggest way that they do that is by leaving reviews and making comments on their experience with those brands. So, as a shop owner, it's important to make sure that you address any kind of customer concerns online, whether they be positive or negative. That way, your customer base can truly feel valued and appreciated.
How long should one wait before responding to an online review?
Generally speaking, the sooner the better. If you can respond within 24 hours, that would be ideal. Reviews are not necessarily something that you want to sit on. Most people are expecting an almost immediate response when they're making comments online.
You mentioned responding to positive and negative reviews. What’s the best way to respond to a positive review in order to continue the good impression?
Thank them for taking the time to leave that positive review. Because the reality is, your average person takes the time to leave negative reviews and not so much positive ones. I also think it's important to use the interaction as an opportunity to promote your business—maybe ask the reviewer if you can share their kind words in other places.
Word-of-mouth is huge on social media and in the digital space. When people are looking to decide whether or not they want to work with a brand, they generally go online and on social media platforms to see if the business has been supported by positive reviews.
How can shop staff encourage customers to leave reviews?
Most people like incentives. So, shop owners and their team members could offer a special with a discount on a customer’s next service, a $5 gift card to their local coffee shop, or maybe a free tire rotation in exchange for a review.
What's the best way to go about responding to a negative review?
The very first thing you should do is thank the person for taking the time to leave their feedback. The second step is to engage in the conversation and ask what you can do to make their experience better. Make sure you're engaging and directly addressing their concern—leave your ego at the door. Shop owners take pride in their business. Some shops are businesses that have been in the family for years! It's important to not take negative reviews personally, even if it may be a personal attack, and understand that the person may have just been upset at that moment.
How do you take this online feedback back into the shop?
Here at Mighty, we encourage our franchises to have what we call “digital champions”. A digital champion is someone within the organization who is familiar with how to engage on these online platforms. That designated person can be the one who comes back to the shop to give a weekly update on reviews in an organized nature. Generally, you want to have just one person responding online so you have a consistency in your brand’s tone of voice.
Do you recommend possibly outsourcing the “digital champion” role?
That's exactly what we tell our franchises because we understand that some people don't have time to respond online or don't understand the digital world. So, we tell them that their digital champion could be anyone, maybe their next door neighbor's daughter who is in school for marketing. Find someone that you know and employ them part-time or hire someone once a month to respond to reviews and comments online—that would be more helpful than not addressing them at all.
If you are interested in partnering with Mighty and learning about their customized training and inventory management opportunities, visit mightyautoparts.com.