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Kathi Kruse

Kathi Kruse President

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Online Reputation: You Gotta Live It to Believe It!

Online Reputation: You Gotta Live It to Believe It!How do you want to be perceived on the Internet? Social Media gives you the platform to communicate everything anyone would want to know about your brand and–contrary to what you might think–that’s a good thing.  But what happens when something goes wrong?  What parts of your business would be affected if damaging yet truthful information started spreading like wildfire?

The Los Angeles Times published a story recently about a spoof around the new TV ads for the Chevy Volt, congratulating GM for ceasing to fund the Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank that questions the science behind global warming. The group that produced the spoof ad said, “There was such a clear contrast between what they were doing in the market and the positions that they’re taking and what Heartland does. The most emblematic example of that was the Chevy Volt.”

When your brand’s values and perspectives don’t align with your actions, things can quickly turn negative.  Today’s socially-responsible and Social Media-connected consumer likes to buy from those businesses they feel a connection with.  If you’re able to make that genuine connection, that customer’s loyalty rarely wavers.  They buy from you again and again.  They refer their friends and family through word-of-mouth on Social networks.

For car dealers, this is good news!  Dealerships have long been integral, civic leaders in their community:

  • Sponsoring the local Little League and school functions
  • Free Service Clinics so customers can get to know their cars better
  • Chamber of Commerce mixers in the showroom to support local business
  • Support local causes that make a difference in people’s lives!

Car dealers regularly given back to their local community.  It’s now a matter of making sure dealers’ actions are broadcast well and there’s no better place to do that than Social Media.  Sure, everybody loves to hate on car dealers but having been one myself, I’m living proof there’s another side to that story.  A few bad actors have reinforced a stereotype and that doesn’t have to be the message everyone hears.  For every bad actor, there are 100+ that are doing great things in their neck of the woods.  Tell your story!

It’s never easy to see negative things said about you online.  With Chevy, they recognized how their actions were harming their brand and they fixed it.  For dealers, recognizing that you need an internal process to manage your online reputation is how you prepare for and fix any future debacles.  Identify what you stand for and live that out every day.  Let it be what guides every decision you make.

Do your online ratings reflect the real-life experience your customers receive with they visit your store?  If not, consider how, with some training and development, your staff might execute a winning process to identify optimal situations during their daily duties.  These opportunities with customers come in the form of:

  • Recognizing and initiating ideal conversations to capture online reviews
  • Submission of ideas for blog posts by answering FAQs from customers. Heck they might even enjoy writing the post!
  • Video blogs on how to perform minor vehicle self-services
  • Email marketing to your already-established repeat customer database

Social Media is not just a great platform to market to your customer.  With effort and perseverance, you really can build a community online that reflects your real-life community and customer experience.  Take action now and sleep well tonight!

Your Turn:  Do your business’ actions reflect the values you want to be perceived by?

Kathi Kruse
Social Media Coaching & Training

Chris Costner
Thanks for sharing this Kathi, great read. It certainly is too easy for dealers to be made or broken with their online social communities. It takes 100% commitment for those that don't know and should present a benefit for all members, not just the dealers.
Jim Bell
It's scary how some dealers aren't taking a hold of online reviews today. Those that aren't, they may be missing some business. I heard from that of the new car buyers that look at reviews, they look at the after sale reviews for parts and service more so than reviews for the sales process itself. They want to see how they will be treated after the sale vs. during. Used car buyers look at the purchase reviews more so than the after sale reviews. Kind of interesting is what I thought.
Kathi Kruse
That is very interesting indeed, Jim. Did you see that DME study about how the Service aftermarket chains are the shop of choice for those under 30? (If you didn't, email me and I'll send you a copy). If those would-be customers are reading negative reviews on dealerships then there is no chance against those chains. There is a store I know who gets good CSI but they have 1.5 stars on Yelp. 20 reviews and 16 of those are 1 star. Eeek! It's so clear they have no internal process for online reviews. Kinda makes me sad.
Kathi Kruse
Chris, you are so right! Every time there's a negative review, it hurts the dealer body. When the Social community sees it, they start wondering about you too. Thanks for your comment :-)
william white
thanks for making this write up kathi. well for me it is how the business goes. there are too many trials for the business to be on top. chris is right it is easy to make things broken specially if it is online commitment. if i have a business right now like some auto parts i'd rather check for the availability of it before i release it to media.

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