How a Pet Business Can Manage Its Reputation Online
Running a pet business in this digital age is exciting. Business owners can reach out to their target customers using a variety of social platforms, forming relationships like never before. Social media is a powerful tool when it comes to running any business—no matter the size of your company. In fact, these tools can really launch your business to new heights and success. Of course, with emerging technologies comes the ability for your customers to leave reviews, both positive and negative. In some cases, a person’s bark is worse than their bite; in other words, a bad review won’t have a huge lasting impact on your business. However, knowing how to manage your company’s social media reputation is essential in today’s business environment.
Take a moment to close your eyes and imagine someone sitting behind their laptop or scrolling through their phone. This person has the ability to say anything about you and your business on social media. That can be a bit scary, huh? As a business owner, I completely understand. That’s why social media reputations are so important. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the online platforms, don’t worry. Let’s work through managing your company’s social media reputation together.
Identify Your Review Platforms
Where do you want to show up online? There are many review sites these days that can be found through a simple Google search. These include Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare, Better Business Bureau, TripAdvisor and many more. Perhaps you have a review page built in to your company’s website as well. You won’t be able to properly manage your company’s social media reputation if you have no idea where your reviews are showing up in the first place.
Review Your Platforms for Reviews
Now that you’ve established where reviews of your company are popping up online, how many reviews have been responded to? Take the time to go through your review platforms and read your customer reviews. I know there’s a lot of reviewing going on here, but trust me when I say it’s crucial.
Make note of what kind of reviews you’re getting. Are they positive, negative or neutral? Are folks generally happy with your products and/or services? The key is to treat all reviews equally and to maintain level-headedness when you spot a negative one.
Responding to Customer Reviews
What stance will you take? This is where the integrity of your business really comes into play. How you respond to both positive and negative reviews will set the tone for your business moving forward. If you’re in the pet business, you might find a customer who complained about a grooming service, the price of a product or service, or something else. If you find a negative review, here are some thoughts to keep in mind:
- How can you make sure it doesn’t happen again?
- How can you make sure the customer feels heard?
- How can you make sure the customer knows that you genuinely care about their feedback?
No customer wants to feel like their issues are being swept under the rug. Remember to always take the high road and acknowledge that the customer is always right—even if they express their feelings in a not-so-nice way.
Here is a real example of a two-star review that I’ve personally dealt with, along with my response:
Review: “This was the first groomer we tried out in the Phoenix area. They had good reviews on Yelp and good prices so we gave them a try. I was not impressed and left really missing our groomer back in CA. I asked for my dog’s tail to get special attention. She was given back to me with matts still in her tail and her face hadn’t been cleaned thoroughly. Pretty disappointed will not be returning.”
Response: “Hi [customer’s name], we are very sorry for your experience. We certainly never want a client leaving unhappy. We really strive to give the best service to all customers. If you would like to call or text us at 602-266-5360, we would be happy to help make your next visit a better one.”
No matter how well you train your staff or how polite you are to customers, it’s impossible to run a business without racking up a few negative reviews, but don’t let it get you down. Use these reviews as a learning experience, and always offer to make it right for the customer. Never attack a customer or imply that they’re in the wrong—that is not the way to get them to give you a second chance. Make sure your employees are aware of these reviews as well, and take time to review customer expectations with them.
Customers really appreciate an owner and/or staff member who takes the time to reply to their review. In fact, we’ve had folks update their reviews after reading our responses. Here’s an example of a customer who updated their review after initially leaving a negative one regarding our technology platforms:
“Update: Due to their quick response to my yelp review, sincere apologies and willingness to resolve the issue, I have updated my review... I do understand “technology” issues and will not penalize them completely for not receiving my text. I wish them all the luck in the future and will consider coming back again!”
This kind of feedback is not only great for our team, but it’s great for other customers to see as well. They know we’re serious and sincere in our responses if someone is less than thrilled with our services.
Removing or Flagging Reviews
Some review platforms offer business owners the opportunity to flag or even remove negative reviews from their websites. While every business wants to maintain a pristine image, it’s not always a bad thing to leave up the negative reviews. As long as you respond to them in a timely and professional manner, it shows potential clients and customers that you’re always willing to make things right. It’s also a good idea if you sign off your replies as the owner to show that you’re really invested in making every customer’s experience a great one.
Social media is a great way to stay connected with customers across the board. Don’t feel bad after receiving a negative review. It’s all a part of being in business during the 21st century. While it can be overwhelming and even frustrating at times, learning to manage your online reputation with grace and gratitude will certainly help you in the long run.
Need more help? I’m happy to help business owners create a strategy for managing their social media reputation! Let’s chat soon. You can contact me at lizillg.com.
Liz Illg is the owner of Puff & Fluff Grooming and Pet Sitting, which has five locations in the Phoenix area. Not only has Illg turned her passion for animals into a thriving business, she is an expert when it comes to creating an environment of growth for your business as well. In fact, as an operational strategist, Illg specializes in working with small business owners and entrepreneurs. She can assist with everything from streamlining systems to creating manageable training and operational manuals. When she’s not busy connecting with the community and appearing on local media outlets to share her business knowledge, you can find Illg practicing yoga, hiking, and spending time with her husband and their five fur babies. Illg received her bachelor’s in business from Arizona State University and her master’s in education from Northern Arizona University.