‘Tis the Season for a Great Holiday Online Reputation Plan
As another holiday season arrives, businesses are busy planning to deal with the surge in customer traffic that comes with this joyous time of year. And, with 71% of consumers preferring digital channels as the starting point of their holiday shopping journey, it’s more important than ever for businesses to make a good online first impression. This is the perfect time to give your customers an early Christmas present – a great holiday online reputation plan.
Improving your online reputation is something that can make this time of year even more prosperous for businesses. Yet with all the work that must be done in preparation for the holidays, many business owners might overlook this important task. Don’t let this be the case for your business.
So, what can business owners do to decorate their brand’s online reputation to attract more customers during the holidays? Below are some tips businesses can use to create a great holiday online reputation plan.
Involve Your Employees Early
Your online reputation is a reflection on how well you deliver the customer experience in your business. And your employees are at the front lines in making this happen. So any customer service planning you are preparing for the holiday rush, it’s important to involve them from the beginning.
Your employees have a wealth of information and experience when it comes to the customer. Tap into that experience by having them share their positive customer interactions with you and their peers. This will give you input for your holiday online reputation plan and is a great way to ensure good customer service actions are replicated by your staff.
Track Digital Word of Mouth
With increased holiday shopping activity comes increased online customer conversations. Don’t ignore what’s being said about your business. Make sure you or someone on your staff is monitoring this digital word of mouth.
Your top priority is to check for any online reviews posted about your business. You should have a process for managing reviews. This includes reviewing the customer’s comments, sharing the information with your staff and responding to all reviews promptly.
While online reviews are the primary focus, don’t forget other types of mentions on the web. There are many other sites where your brand can be mentioned. From Google and Yelp to Facebook and Twitter to local message forums to online business directories, your brand can be mentioned in literally thousands of places.
Tracking all online mentions about your brand can be a challenge, but it is well worth the effort. Being unaware of a bad comment or thread about your brand or not responding to online reviews during the holidays can lead to lost customers and sales.
Schedule Frequent Employee Training Sessions
Delivering exceptional customer experiences is the name of the game in business – especially during the holidays. To accommodate the surge in customer traffic, many businesses hire additional employees. However, this can make it difficult to maintain a consistent, high level of customer service.
Of course you should make time to train these new employees so they understand how you want them to treat the customer. The trick is to then schedule a weekly or, better yet, daily “all hands” meeting with all employees to reinforce the critical aspects of your customer experience process. The objective is to keep everyone on the same page and motivated so they deliver a great customer experience every time.
Update your Google My Business Page
As previously stated, consumers will be searching the web for businesses like yours during the holiday shopping season. Your Google My Business page is likely to be the first thing a potential customer sees about you online. So be sure it is updated for yuletide shoppers.
Review your contact information – address, phone number, website, etc. – to make sure it is correct. In addition, make sure your page is updated with new holiday business hours and that alerts for reviews and questions and answers are turned on. Finally, consider enabling the messaging feature to allow customers to contact you via text.
Incorrect or missing contact information about your business online causes potential customers to lose trust in you. If this is the case, not only will you lose holiday shoppers to the competition, but if not corrected, future prospects as well.
Boost the Convenience Factor
Businesses should always strive to make it easy for customers to do business with you. And, during this time of year, a little convenience goes a long way in reducing holiday stress for customers. There are many options business owners can employ to improve the customer experience during the holidays. Some ideas include:
- Expanding business hours
- Implementing a “no-hassle” returns policy
- Providing self-service options via phone, website and social media
- Offering free shipping
Further, be willing to go the extra, extra mile for your customers during the holidays. This includes empowering your employees to make decisions in certain situations that create a wow moment for that customer.
By making things easier on customers during the holiday rush, businesses will see lots of repeat business and lots of love for your online reputation.
With more and more holiday shopping taking place online, businesses must pay attention to their online reputation. Those that take the opportunity to build their online reputation during this time of year pave the way for more sales now and down the road.
The holidays are a stressful time for you and your customers. There are longer lines, fewer people to take care of the increase in customers and the phone is not always answered. But, don’t expect your customers to cut you any slack if they receive poor service. Even the most understanding of customers may get frustrated or angry in this situation. This can lead to poor online reviews and negative comments about your business on the web for all to see.
With a little effort, you can create a great holiday online reputation plan that helps you and your staff focus on maximizing the customer experience. The gifts your business will get in return are a better brand image, more customers and more sales.
What steps are you taking to prepare your holiday online reputation plan for your business? Please share your ideas in the comments below.
Need help with building your brand’s online reputation? ReviewIgnite specializes in helping businesses leverage their online reputation to improve their brand image, attract more customers and increase sales. See our online reputation management software in action. Contact us to get your free, no obligation demo today! Happy Holidays from all of us at ReviewIgnite!