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Las Vegas, Nevada — In his SEMA360 Session, Corey Perlman talked to us about the importance of not only maintaining your brand’s online presence, but investing in it and making sure it matches that of your offline or in-store presence. 

With just four steps, Perlman gives us the tools we need to boost our channels, garner positive reviews and respond to the negative ones with dignity and professionalism. 

Perlman starts off by explaining why having a consistent online presence is so important, and provided the following statistics for proof: 

  • 46 percent of all Google searches are for local businesses
  • 92 percent of searches will pick a business from the first page 
  • 93 percent of consumers say that online reviews impact their purchasing decisions
  • 94 percent of people say an online review convinced them to avoid a business
  • 7 out of 10 people will leave a review if asked

Perlman sets the stage by using a metaphor of your brand as a “castle” and your good reviews being your “moat”. The more positive reviews you have, the higher your moat and the less likely negative reviews, or your attackers, are to penetrate your castle. 

The first step in this process, according to Perlman, is to do a digital audit of your company online. This means Googling your brand and making note of any discrepancies you find. 

  • Are there social profiles that aren’t being actively managed? 
  • Where do most of your reviews lie, and are they lacking in substance? 
  • Is your company responding to these reviews? 

These are all important questions to ask yourself that will help to reframe how your brand is seen online. 

With step two, Perlman asks you to look at how your brand performs offline, or in your shop, compared to online, saying that ensuring how you are seen online reflects how you conduct business offline is critical in gaining positive traffic. This means making sure any directory listings you have been claimed or updated so that your consumers know exactly where to find what they’re looking for. 

This also includes taking a hard look at your social profiles and seeing if they reflect consistent and professional branding and also making sure the content that is being posted shows the quality of your product and/or services. You want your customers to be impressed when they come across your channels, you want to show them that the quality of services in-person translates to your online community as well. 

Having a plan for the worst-case scenario is step number three in our four-step process. Here Perlman outlines what to do in situations where a customer leaves a negative review based on experience or product. Dealing with negative or argumentative people can sometimes get to us on a personal level, but Perlman urges you to keep your calm and even sleep on it before responding. Here are some other helpful tips he suggests when dealing with negative nellies: 

  • Be diplomatic – don’t try to argue with them, keep a level head and hear them out on what they’re saying
  • Be empathetic – really listen to their issue and see if you’re able to offer a resolution both parties can be satisfied with
  • Don’t be defensive – getting defensive, especially online, can reflect negatively on you and your business
  • Try to solve the issue – do your best to come to a solution online
  • Take it offline – if you can’t solve the problem online, suggest taking the issue offline and getting the customer to contact you or your support team to work through the issue 

Our final step as you create a process for positive feedback. As mentioned above 7 out of 10 customers will leave a review if asked, so don’t be afraid to ask especially if they’re a loyal customer. Showing your customers where to go to leave a review is a helpful hand as well, sometimes those most loyal don’t know how to show their appreciation and it’s up to you to show them how. 

You’ll always want to show appreciation for these reviews too, be sure to respond and thank them for their kind words. Perlman even suggests asking them if you can publish their review as he says, “never let a verbal testimonial go unpublished.” 

With these four basic steps, you can take your online presence from flat and drab to lively and fresh with consistent professionalism.

Article Credit to Collision Repair Magazine.