No!Remember the good-‘ol-days when customers who had a negative experience would tell 10 of their closest friends, versus the five they would tell about a positive experience?  I remember learning that statistic in a marketing class and thinking, “Wow…you really have to be extra careful to leave customers on a positive note, because that one negative experience will spread like wildfire.”  A no-brainer, if you will.

Flash forward a few years to a world where that “wildfire” has been outdone by the tsunami-like spreading effect negative reviews on the internet will create.  Now, even the tiniest mistake can be catastrophic to your reputation.  Not only will that complainer’s 10 closest friends hear about their experience, but so will hundreds (or potentially thousands) of people they have no personal connection to. Behold, the power of the internet.

But don’t let it scare you.  Making sure you stay on top of your kitchen or bath business’s online reputation, and taking the proper steps to set the record straight will allow you to regain the trust of potential kitchen buyers.

Here are some simple tips to follow so that you don’t lose the faith of potential kitchen prospects before you even know they exist:

Stay on top of your online reputation

In order to manage what is being said about your kitchen and bath dealerships, you must first find out what is being said, and where.  One simple way to do this is to sign up for free internet services such as Google Alerts.

“Now, even the tiniest mistake can be catastrophic to your reputation.”

Google Alerts allows you to specify terms you want to monitor (such as your business’s name) as well as where to send this information, and how often (once a week, once a day, etc).  Whenever something is written that includes that keyword or phrase, an email will be sent to you with a link to that post.  Grade school would have been less “caddy” if tools like this had been available for gossip!

In addition, regularly check sites that you know host consumer reviews, such as the BBB, Yelp, google reviews, and online social media forums.

Take a moment to think it through before responding

Now, assume you found a nasty review. Natural human animalistic instincts would tell us to defend to the end and go straight for the juggular, but sometimes we have to muzzle those emotions and take a temporary step back to get our bearings straight.  How unprofessional it would look if your response came across as an attack.  You can guarantee that that sort of reaction would make matters much worse.

This is where the old saying “put yourself in their shoes,” seems to fit nicely.  Try to find out who the customer is, and what made them so upset.  Was it poor customer service or an untimely cabinet delivery?  Or, who knows, maybe it was a competitor’s customer who accidentally posted under the wrong company – Yes, that happens…in fact, I’ve almost done that myself (the salon that didn’t burn my eyebrows with hot wax should be happy I caught my mistake).

Whatever the complainer’s reasoning, doesn’t change the fact that they posted their comment for all to see, so a timely response on your end is in order.  You never want to leave a squeaky wheel without lubrication of some sort, or others will think you don’t take care of matters that need attention.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Handling Online Complaints Regarding Your Dealership, where we’ll look into proper response etiquette and follow-up methods.