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Part 2 of "Can You See The Forest For The Trees?"
If reputation is the forest and reviews are the trees, I begin again by asking the question, "Can you see the forest for the trees?"
Technology is the driver behind cultural change. Out of emerging technologies of the 21st century has come culture change. The Internet has spawned the sense of immediacy with the PC, the smart phone and the tablet. Each step of the way has increased the consumer's knowledge and expectations.
This has created a me/now culture. The changes in consumer perceptions and expectations are at least as much about the customer as the product, and demands transparency in transactions and pricing. Wearable technology will only increase and accelerate these cultural changes and that's another "forest or the trees" question. For if technology is driving cultural changes, then the combination of the two is the forest again.
It's all about the customer today and how that customer perceives our business.
In calling reputation the forest and reviews the trees, I am changing the focus from managing or manipulating reviews to utilizing them in managing your true reputation. Who you really are and your reputation should match as closely as possible.
I was asked recently, "If a review falls in reputation forest but nobody reads it does it have an affect on my store?"
Obviously, the answer would be no. If nobody reads the review, it has no affect on your store, but if you read it, it can have a profound affect on your store.
There lies the difference between reputation management and review management.
It's the ability to make reviews actionable that bridges the distance between customer perception and reality.
It's really not new to talk about customer retention and loyalty, but it is beginning to operate on steroids in the new ME/NOW marketplace. The time has come to move from the one-time transaction to long term relationships that result in advocates who bring in new business for us.
So how do we turn the focus from reviews to reputation?
Well, of course, you can't manage what you don't measure. So we begin by measuring what our customers are saying about us and to us by analyzing and utilizing the content of reviews rather than how many stars are chosen by the consumer.
CSI is score-based and provides little reputation discovery. Nobody sees them except the manufacturer and the dealer. Reviews show the possibility of transcending that. 5 stars is a primary measurement that assists consumers but gives us no information other than a score. By measuring the content of reviews, we begin to understand our reputation.
If you have been following GM's reputation management program involving surveys of every sales customer and service customer, you may reach the conclusion that CSI is a dinosaur that is on its way out and reviews/surveys will eventually replace them. How manufacturers manage this is key to your future revenues.
The key to reputation management is obtaining actionable information and then acting upon it to improve your business in ways that bring perceptions and reality together in your customer's minds.
When you have begun this journey, you can then turn to marketing your reputation rather than your reviews in ways that involve Social Media, Advocates, and more.
Customers may be judgmental. But no matter what a dealer has done in the past, interest in improvement and taking action on behalf of that interest is self-redeeming.
The journey is one that leads to the self-esteem of your entire business and staff, as well as the opinions and loyalty of your customers. Retention means that new customers add to your customer base rather than replacing one-time transactions and customer defections.
Dig Deep and Prosper!
Written by Tom Gorham
Editor, From The Trenches