By Doron Levy, President, Captus Business Consulting
You may not be aware of this, but there is a good chance that someone has googled you. You may have been googled a few times today already. Someone may even be googling you right now. If you own a retail or customer service oriented business, those chances increase dramatically. Greater access to the internet, high speed smartphones and social media has changed the way consumers shop on the internet. Your potential customers could be making decisions about you without ever setting foot in your store.
The term googling sounds painful. It is actually a slang verb that refers to performing internet searches via Google or other search engines. If someone googles me, they are searching for Doron Levy or Captus Business Consulting through a search engine such as a Google. No power tools or medical devices involved in the process and relatively painless for the subject involved. Now, the results that come back are a different story. Those results could prove to be painful if you don’t check to see what people are saying about you. Have you googled yourself lately?
Now it’s your turn. I want you to google the term ‘walmart’ Enter it exactly as you see it (or would enter it as if you were actually searching for Walmart). The first result back is the link to the actual company or store website for that retailer. Scroll down and take a look at the other results.The results actually change frequently. But there are always 2 or 3 negative sites or news reports pertaining to Walmart in the search results. Remember, you only searched for ‘walmart’. You were not looking for negative news or sites about Walmart. They just happened to show up on the first page of the search results. Now imagine if it was your brand that was being googled and you had all these articles and posting trashing your brand coming up on the first page of the search results?
Some of these sites are not legitimate. The stories and incidents are usually false and do not accurately represent the Walmart brand. The point is that they are there. And on the internet, perception is 98% reality. People naturally love conflict and in some cases, I suspect those negative news and blog sites that pop up get better click through rates than Walmart themselves. Accurate or not, it is very easy to click a link, read a post, make an assumption and search for something else. This illustrates the importance of managing your image on the internet.
So what can a retailer do to protect and enhance their image on the internet?
- Actively engage in social media. Using websites like Facebook and services like Twitter should be used to create effective lines of communication between you and your customer. Having profiles on social media sites also automatically includes your name or brand in their own internal search engines.
- Use Google Alerts to see what people are saying about you or your brand. Setting up alerts is easy and you are notified by email when your search term appears in a Google search result. If people are posting about your brand on an external site, Google will alert you when the page is crawled.
- Respond to negative press with honest answers. That is the one thing Walmart does not do It does not actively engage their detractors with dialogue. This is the only scenario where silence is not golden. If someone has something negative to say about your brand, you should always respond directly on the article or blog post. State the facts and what you did to fix the situation.
More consumers are using the internet as a resource when making the purchasing decision. All retailers should know what their customers and potential customers see when researching their brand on the web. You could be losing customers that you didn’t even know you had!
Doron Levy delivers his retail expertise through Captus Business Consulting. During his 20 years in the industry, he has been successful in increasing revenue and margin, optimizing and streamlining retail operations, reducing shrink, increasing employee morale and, most importantly, driving the bottom line. Doron has created solutions and training workshops for some of the biggest names in retail. He is a published author and has contributed to many retail trade magazines and websites. For more information on Captus services for business, please contact Doron directly at email@example.com.