Do retailers have an online reputation management problem?
Online reputation matters. At the Transform ’19 conference in San Diego earlier this month, one point driven home was that, while brands and retailers have expanded their conversational touchpoints as a result of social media efforts, the vast majority of conversations about a particular company’s products and/or services takes place outside of those they control.
“We live in a ‘Feedback Economy’ with millions of points of presence to manage,” said Joe Fuca, CEO of reputation.com, the firm behind the conference.
Effectively managing online perception requires a systematic approach (beyond social listening and crisis management) that supports brand strategy. New technologies, processes, data sources and machine learning provide the ability to dynamically develop, analyze, act on and measure online presence. It’s important to:
- Maximize visibility via business listings and directories so customers can find you;
- Increase engagement via reviews and social channels so customers will choose you;
- Improve overall experience via surveys and analytics to identify issues or opportunities;
- Monitor and measure performance over time and in real-time so you can take action.
These activities drive more traffic, clicks, calls, visits and revenue. In fact, reputation score and revenue performance correlate directly — retailers with high scores generate 3.9 percent higher sales.
The UK pub and restaurant chain, Mitchells and Butlers, has increased its online customer reviews from 130,000 to 750,000 over two years. Unit managers are held responsible for responding to consumer reviews and have achieved a 92 percent response rate. Word of mouth is important in the hospitality segment, given nearly all Millennials read online reviews before making decisions.
Scentre Group owns and operates “living centers” in Australia and New Zealand under the Westfield banner. It has found that consumers are willing to go back and amend poor reviews based on intervention from these centers as well as contacts made by corporate offices and retailers. This has improved the company’s star ratings, overall reputation score and center performance.
Pearle Vision is taking control of its narrative and promoting its “quality of care” brand promise to differentiate itself from new competitors in the eyewear segment. By understanding online conversations and taking action, the chain’s eyecare centers have increased exam volume and improved patient retention rates — two key metrics.
As these examples illustrate, understanding and managing online reputation is a business fundamental for brands and retailers. Winners have the right online visibility and take action to drive performance.
- 2018 Retail Reputation Report Ranks Major Chains for In-Store Experience – Reputation.com
- 2018 Retail Reputation Report – Reputation.com
- How to Get Millennials to Trust and Respond to Your Advertising – Forbes
- Study: 97% Of Business Owners Say Online Reputation Management Is Important–Here’s How To Keep Up – Forbes
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How can brands and retailers manage word of mouth and online chatter when the vast majority of conversations take place outside of social channels and sites they have control over? Do you see a direct correlation between the ability to gain visibility into those conversations and sales performance?