One of our staffers was looking for a garage she could trust to repair minor damage to her car pre-sale. Living in London she thought she would be spoiled for choice. How wrong could she be?
Let’s retrace her steps…
Five businesses are returned, and this is where her disappointment began. Only two have any reviews on Google. So she looked at them… the one with the Google stars first; a score of 4.1 looked good until she read the negative reviews – whoa! Would she risk taking her car to a garage whose reviews contain such nuggets as…
“They are not honest.” “Avoid this garage.” “I will not be using them again.” “The car is not safe to drive.” ?
So on to Garage No. 2
No rating or score on Google (they have yet to achieve the five plus reviews to qualify) but the four reviews are good (all five stars), albeit they’re spread over the last five years.
Now, we live in a free world and it is entirely up to the business concerned whether they bother to engage in modern marketing. So maybe these garages don’t need the work? But it appears they do – they have listings on various paid-for sites (e.g. Yell) and they invest in leaflets and beautifully designed and laminated cards like this one she found on her windscreen:
What is the first thing any person is going to do in response to any of your marketing or advertising? That’s right: Google your business
On to garage No. 3 – the card on her windscreen
Two (one star) reviews. The first is not really relevant to our staffer’s needs (complaining about an MoT) and the second is very general, but at least the business has done something about it.
Lessons – for every business, large or small
There are lessons to be learned form this sorry saga, and not just for the motor trade. The first is that almost all businesses are currently allowing a tiny minority of their customers to dictate how they look on the web, and that cannot be helpful for them or their potential customers. The three businesses we are discussing here are are typical*:
Garage No. 1
The negative reviews must be replied to. Not replying to a review that accuses your business of dishonesty or unprofessional behaviour is tantamount to admitting the reviewer is right. There are far too many businesses out there who are still in ‘review denial’- they think reviews ‘don’t matter’ or ‘won’t be taken seriously’ or ‘are only written by idiots’ when the fact is that it has been proven time-and-again that one single negative review has the power to drive business away.
- Respond to negative reviews: address key issues with facts
- Respond to positive reviews: thank each reviewer and highlight aspects of your service they commented on – “thank you for your kind remarks, we pride ourselves on…”
For those who may still think that these negative reviews may not be damaging the business: GSF (and the link to their reviews) have appeared over two hundred and seventy thousand times in search.
Garage No. 2
Do they value their five star reviews? Do they realise just how many potential customers could be seeing them? Do they realise that they will get a (great) star rating and score from Google if just one more customer writes a review? Do they understand just how much this has the potential to drive customers their way?
- Get just one more review to get a score and star rating from Google
- Respond to the reviews (see ‘1.2’ above)
Garage No. 3
Businesses must get to grips with Google. Come out of ‘denial’ and engage with Google by giving them what they want: reviews from your customers.
- Get your happy customers to write reviews
- Respond to those reviews
- Don’t do any more marketing until you look great online – on your own website and on Google
This last point is so important – getting your Google house in order – we know very large businesses with multi-million pound marketing budgets whose Google reviews are driving business away (and meaning so many of those marketing £s are wasted) by not paying attention to review management.
review management is not simply about ‘looking good’, it is about driving custom towards your business. Do you think this score and star rating is winning business for our client? You bet it is!
If your business is looking to thrive it must look good on Google. If your customer service is so bad you are afraid to invite reviews, then you need to get a grip on your customer service, not slide into review denial.
As time passes, businesses that recognise that they have a duty to their customers (as well as themselves) to ensure they look as good as possible on Google will succeed. Suppose all these businesses had focused on getting a review a month posted over the last four years?
They will save money on other marketing simply because so much custom will flow through Google. And those that ignore or deny Google will fail – it is as simple as that.
Further reading if you:
*Don’t think that this syndrome is confined to small and medium sized businesses. Take the Ritz Hotel in London, for example: it currently has 124 reviews on Google (21% of which say something uncomplimentary) and those reviews are served first in every search, above TripAdvisor and Booking.com. We estimate that the Ritz plays host to roughly 20,000 guests a year and those Google reviews have been posted over the last four years; that’s the Ritz’s reputation being controlled by two guests a month: 0.015% of its guests.