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From the Trenches - A Better Way to Get Reviews

 

Would you write a review for a hairstylist while he or she was cutting your hair?

It's not enough to be against something; one must offer an alternative. 
 
I am known to be against in-store reviews. I believe they create a feeling of pressure to the customer regardless of your actual actions. Once you have created a great buying experience where the customer feels he or she has had a no-pressure purchase, you suddenly make him or her feel the pressure of writing about it online.

Proponents of in-store reviews justifiably want to get the customer to write about their pleasurable purchase while they are in the store and still "fresh".

I understand this but disagree. In a recent article on Automotive News about this very subject, a commenter stated that, "If you think in store reviews are legit you must be a dealer."

Alternatives to this pressure have been offered such as:

  • Have the salesperson or finance manager ask them to write a review when they get home.
  • Give them a card with information as to how to write a review on a few of your favorite review sites.
  • Send an email to them with links to your favorite review sites.

All of these alternatives are OK and maintain the integrity of the request for an honest review.

Here is a better way. Send this request as soon as your customer has left the store in their new vehicle.

Click here to view your video

Benefits:

  • Most customers have the purchase still fresh in their minds and have good feelings about their purchase.
  • It's personal - you just assisted them in a memorable way and are simply asking for reciprocity.
  • You are leading them to the place you want them to write a review. It's as simple as, "Start writing."

Most customer feel obligated to reciprocate for their good fortune in buying the right car, at the right price, from the right person, at the right dealer. And you are looking them right in the eye, but with no pressure, asking for this favor.

Make it easy for them. The review site is staring them right in the face and only requires them to start writing.

Get more reviews. Get quality reviews. And get them in an ethical, no-pressure way.

Maintain your integrity and show others how to give great customer service and be rewarded for it!

 

Written by
 Tom Gorham

Editor, From The Trenches

Automotive Digital Marketing

Professional Community

Views: 262

Tags: Advocates, Customer, DealerRater, In-Store, Management, Marketing, Reputation, Reviews, WOMM

Comment

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Comment by Tom Gorham on April 14, 2014 at 7:40am

Ryan, I'm not sure about the personable part, but I appreciate the vote of confidence!  Your right about the song that never ends and I just helped carry it on.  LOL!

Comment by Ryan Leslie on April 14, 2014 at 6:54am

Remember the children's show on PBS with the purple dinosaur? "This is the song that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends." This is the best practice discussion that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends! ;) How many pages of ADM are devoted to the topic of onsite review collection? I bet a lot of them.

Tom, I love this! You and I agree that the only truly successful strategy for marketing reviews begins with the realization that reviews are NOT just marketing and "Online Reputation Management" is a fallacy, your reputation is your reputation both online and off. The experiences you create in store will define your reputation, not a collection strategy.

Ralph, I respect you and like Tom am honored to disagree with you on this topic. The process you've laid out in the comments would lead one to believe that a.) F&I is not a part of the consumer experience or, b.) it is a part of the consumer experience that you do not want represented in your online reviews. Neither of those are good. I think Tom's haircut analogy is an excellent one. You don't know what kind of haircut you got until you get out of the chair, why would you compliment the barbershop before they finished the job?

Great stuff as always Tom! It doesn't surprise me that you are having success with this approach. You are as personable on camera as you are in person!

Comment by Tom Gorham on April 14, 2014 at 4:49am

Ralph, your survey system is similar to what we use as well. It is a system mandated by GM and I personally like it. In fact I've written about it right here on ADM, although not specifically in regards to online reviews, "Measuring Your Wow Factor and Other Attributes". But like you've said, there are more ways to skin a cat. And in fact, in the post, I referred to this as an alternative and mentioned others such as cards and emails such as you send. Both of these processes avoid in-store reviews and that's my point. And I understand your desire to give the customer alternative sites. There is another version of this same process that allows you to do that. BTW, not being a vendor, I didn't want to give the impression that I was selling a particular software or product.  I'm simply offering a suggested process or practice.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 14, 2014 at 1:06am

Tom, I appreciate your article and the wisdom built into the process you describe... You and I have both been in the business world for more than a few moons, and I am sure you, like me, understand that there is more than one way to set up process and workflows to achieve reputation management goals.  First and foremost, when it comes to requesting that customers rate their experience via email or phone call after the customer has left the dealership, I do not believe in driving all customers to a single review site... Instead, when the landing page is visited, there should be recognizable icons for at least 4 of the major Dealership Review Sites. This is polar opposite of the in-store process where the short survey and review form at the end of the survey are set up and customized to the dealership. I have seen this work exceptionally well, and facilitate the off-site process because the email sent to the customer contains what the customer wrote in the dealership, thereby making it easy and convenient for the customer to copy and paste their own words and now place them directly in their review form comments for the site of THEIR CHOOSING! This works even better in actual practice than it looks as a described process... And drives higher quality reviews at the major third party sites, including Yelpers choosing Yelp and their reviews escaping the obscurity of being "filtered"

Comment by Tom Gorham on April 13, 2014 at 5:59am

Ralph, you wrote "Asking the customer if they would be willing to help the dealership focus on improving customer service by completing a short survey, which includes a section for them to rate/review their experience at the dealership..."

I do see a distinction between a survey and an online review.  If the dealer is asking for a private survey that won't be published online and is intended to improve customer service, then there is less, perhaps no pressure.  But asking for an online review is transparently a marketing ploy that customers may be reluctant to do.  There, then is the pressure.

The comment found beneath the article in Automotive News is indicative of what customers may feel when asked to do an in-store review... ""f you think in store reviews are legit you must be a dealer."

The approach I took in the post above is one that fulfills many of the arguments for in-store reviews.

  • It reaches the customer when they are still excited about their new car
  • It places the review page right in front of them
  • It's a personal request from the salesperson who built the relationship

The advantage is that it's done in the privacy of their own home.  If they don't want to write it, they don't have to say no to the salesperson who might be very persuasive face to face.  They can just simply ignore it. No pressure!

BTW, I have seen that email you are using at Melloy Nissan before and love it.  I think it's very effective.  I do something similar.  The article above is simply another alternative to in-store reviews that will be effective for the reasons stated.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 13, 2014 at 1:09am
BTW, it would be negligent on my part not to point out that there are many people who disagree with the approach I am suggesting... However, the most successful "Online Reputation and Review Based Custoner Feedback" proactive (making an effort) dealerships that I have personally worked with, do deploy a strategy that focuses on BOTH the customer at the dealership AND the customer who has left the dealership... Take a look at http://MelloyNissanReviews.com for the most recent example I have helped define for the landing page that the dealership links to with their emails that request each customer choose the review site they are most comfortable with, post their rating and review because their opinion matters. This is the offsite post-transaction strategy, which supplements the Onsite review process that uses a dealership sponsored app, such as BusinessRater or PrestoReviews which are specifically designed for Onsite POS customer engagement.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 13, 2014 at 12:58am
Like many sales tactics, the tone, demeaner and attitude of the sales pro asking the customer to do something has a major impact on the perception of that request, and the response by the customer.

Asking the customer if they would be willing to help the dealership focus on improving customer service by completing a short survey, which includes a section for them to rate/review their experience at the dealership... While waiting for the business manager to load their information and the deal details in the DMS so documents can be prepared and printed... And he/she will not be looking over their shoulders so the customer can be as frank and critical a they wish... Because the dealership is committed to continuously improving their customer service... Is not only reasonable, and should be done without pressure, but will also reinforce to the customer that they are buying a car at the right business, because their opinion matters and the dealer walks the talk by giving them a voice right there in the dealership. It's a great way to keep customers engaged while the salesperson is preparing for F and I and delivery and it just plain works!
Comment by Tom Gorham on April 12, 2014 at 9:03pm

Ralph, you flatter me and I am honored to disagree with you!  But I don't see this as a multi-faceted issue.  I DO see how it might be affected by "corporate culture" that exists in the dealership.  I am not naïve enough to think that "great customer service" is the be-all of all dealerships.  And I do admit that if a dealer is not committed to the highest quality customer service but only to enhancing his "reputation" or online reviews, in-store reviews will get him rewards, albeit temporary.

If a dealer takes pride in a no-pressure transaction, which I believe is the trend and the future, then he cannot add pressure at the end by suggesting (pressuring) a customer to write a review under the EYE of the dealership.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 12, 2014 at 8:31pm

As much admiration and respect as I have for Tom Gorham, this is an issue where he and I have some differences of opinion... I have personally implemented several sales process embedded systems designed to encourage customers to rate and review their purchase or service experience at the dealership and have found such programs, when properly implemented, to be quite successful.

I do understand Tom's perspective, but I also believe this is an issue that has more than two sides to it, and is multi-faceted as well as being impacted by brand, location, dealership resources and the overall "corporate culture" that exists in the dealership.

Mark Dubis has an interesting product that could be high effective, if he would only listen to some of the recommendations I make! LOL... 

Comment by Tom Gorham on April 12, 2014 at 6:37pm

LOL Mark!  This is not a commercial.  I am not a vendor and I have no profit in this post.  The tool I used is not a program intended for reviews.  It is a video communication tool and has many other uses besides the one I demonstrated.  For example, the website behind the video could have been a VDP page, or a finance application page, or a map to your dealership.  You are only limited by your imagination.

  1. Was it simple to use? Yes. 
  2. Was it automatic?  No and thank goodness.  It should be personal and personal can never be automatic.
  3. Is it positioned to give credit to the individuals who were responsible for the relationship?  Absolutely!
  4. Had the ability to push the review content to their website and to social media websites?  Not automatically, but that's not the purpose.  Marketing reputation is important, but that is not what this article is about.
  5. Notify the dealer about negative reviews?  Refer to number 4.

This is simply what I consider an ethical and no-pressure answer to in-store reviews. What company would I recommend for a review solution?  I recommend the dealer provide first class customer service and do what I just wrote about.

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