“If you don’t like what’s being said about you, change the conversation.” ~Don Draper
Successful offline and online reputation management is difficult. Many businesses struggle with the what, the why and the how to manage their reputation. The goal is to capture your happy, loyal customers’ opinions but to get there, many moving parts must align.
I notice things.
Perhaps it’s my love of satire or the fact that Jon Stewart is my idol, but I notice things that correlate. Things that maybe don’t add up; things that make you go “Hmm.” It generally happens when I see two seemingly innocuous anecdotes or narratives that when put together, create doubt in a consumers’ mind. As a brand reputation consultant, I’m drawn to those situations where a company says one thing and their actions contradict it.
Very often, there’s a disconnect between companies’ top management levels and the people on the front lines.
For instance, I noticed that an executive “CMO” of a publicly traded automotive group is keynoting an exclusive dealer conference. She’s going to share her company’s insights on:
- What experience they believe customers want
- Why they believe customer experience innovation is a differentiator
- What operational challenges they faced and how they were overcome
I’m sure many attendees will want to hear her success story. There will be many accolades and high-fives for this person’s expertise and why not? Her company claims to be a customer experience innovator.
Here’s the Disconnect
Curiously though, a deeper look at their actual results (at the dealership level) tells a different story and this is where my habit to “notice things” came into play the other day. I periodically check the online ratings of a dealership that I managed a few years ago. I do this because this dealerships’ online reputation is awful and the real life experience at the dealership is not. It hurts my heart to witness this, especially because when we were all working together, we were #1 in customer satisfaction, sales and service.
This dealership is one of the company’s flagships stores and they happen to have a lot of very happy, loyal customers who sing their praises. Although you’d never know it by the looks of their online ratings.
- 434 Yelp reviews for a total of 2.5 stars
- 96 Service Center reviews for a total of 2.5 stars
- 64 Google reviews for a total of 1.9 stars
Where exactly is the evidence of this company’s expertise (that will be conveyed at a conference) when it comes to their flagship stores’ online reputation?
There’s a disconnect somewhere and they need to find it quickly. They need to change the conversation.
Online reputation management requires a savvy gameplan.
The gameplan must be championed from the top and executed down to the last employee who turns off the lights at closing time. It’s imperative to introduce operational systems, an action plan (strategies) and tactics to ensure your online reviews mirror your customers’ offline experience.
When leader of a company makes claims about their stellar successes publicly, the evidence should be undeniable. In this case, there may be lots of plausible answers for why certain facts state otherwise. But, the fact is the fact and when 96% of consumers turn to online reviews during the purchase journey, those facts need to be positive.
I have a few friends left at that dealership and I truly care about their online reputation. It’s been going on for quite a while now, at least 2 years, and I hope someday soon the CMO sees the irony that I noticed and takes action to improve things.
Why let this happen to you?
Take action now:
- Leverage every software tool you have
- Designate leaders in your organization to monitor what’s being said
- Develop and implement an online reputation management action plan
- Motivate every employee to make online reputation the #1 priority
Because if online reputation management is not a priority, sooner or later you’re going to lose business to the guy down the street or across town. It’s only a few clicks away to lose business to your competitor. Get your gameplan happening now. There’s no reason to lose the game when you have so many good plays left!