I want to celebrate our democracy like everyone else when the new president is sworn in, but my wife wants us to keep a low profile. Is waving the flag on Facebook really such a bad idea?

In this instance, yes, because the election was so divisive. While you may not have too many friends who didn’t vote the same way as you did, more than 60 million Americans don’t share your views. That’s potentially a big slice of your market who think your political preferences are bewildering and possibly threatening to their way of life. We’ve already seen industry figures fighting it out on Facebook, cancelling orders and threatening never to do business again. Politicians seem to have the ability to trade nasty insults and then work together. Customers are rarely so forgiving. When there’s nothing to be gained and much to be lost, the prudent thing to do is resist the urge to share your political opinion on Facebook. Tone down what you say to your staff. Smile and look agreeable to whatever customers may say.


How do you know an online review is sincere?

We’ll assume you’re asking because you suspect a rival is padding their Yelp page, not because you’d ever consider do anything so unethical (and illegal in some states).

Based on Yelp’s own data-driven research, fake reviews often have the following:

  • An overabundance of first-person pronouns or mentions of who the person was with (“my hubby,” “my family”).
  • Strings of empty adjectives extolling the general unadulterated awesomeness of the store.
  • Overly detailed descriptions of product or service features.
  • Terms and phrases that business owners, rather than shoppers, would likely use, such as “their industry-leading prototype bridal display.”
  • And no prior review history.

Bottom line: It’s surprisingly difficult to fake sincerity. 


How do you get a customer whom you helped on his first visit to come back and ask for you? 

Be careful: this is a potentially perilous path you’re walking, says management consultant Kate Peterson, president of Performance Concepts. “Building relationships is essential for all great salespeople — but individuals ‘owning’ customers is a recipe for trouble,” she cautions. “The best people work to build quality connections with clients, while at the same time establishing a firm foundation for the client with the store — letting them know that anyone on the team can and will take great care of them.” The best way to build those relationships is pay careful attention to detail, Peterson says. “Listen, know what’s important to people, and follow up.”


Are there any business questions that are too stupid to ask?

No.

 


This article originally appeared in the January 2017 edition of INSTORE.



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