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Handle With Care: Responding to Your Dealership’s Online Reviews

How can your dealership keep customers happy? By knowing what they like and dislike about your services - and improving on it. Feedback is one of the most important customer service tools available to dealers, and customers are usually more than willing to give reviews for free. But reviews, especially online ones, should be handled with care because they can go wrong FAST.

So how can your dealership best handle customer reviews - even the negative ones?

DON’T IGNORE THEM

When it comes to angry customers, time is never on your side because the more you wait, the angrier they get. Negative reviewers want to be acknowledged, so reaching out to them in a timely manner is vital.

Also remember that you have a silent online audience, who doesn’t comment or like any of your content, but is looking through it. These are the prospects looking to find a trustworthy dealership for a vehicle purchase or car service - and negative reviews that go unaddressed may ruin their perception of you.

Don’t ignore your satisfied customers either. That customer who went on DealerRater to give you 5 stars will most likely be a spokesperson for you whenever someone in the area asks for recommendations on a good dealership. Plus it’s an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with that customer. Let them know you you’re glad they chose your dealership and invite them to get their oil changed with you!

A prime example of follow-up done right is Volkswagen of Puyallup. They do an excellent job of constantly responding to customer reviews on their Yelp page.

TIP: If you’re finding it difficult to keep up with reviews, set up Google Alerts for your dealership and some industry keywords, or invest in a more complete social media monitoring tool like this one by Hubspot. Also, try taking 10-15 minutes a day to monitor major review websites (Yelp, Google+, Dealer Rater) - and don’t forget Facebook and Twitter!

DON’T GET DEFENSIVE

If you’ve seen the news recently, you may have heard about a certain hotel's review policy, and how it went viral for all the wrong reasons. Not only did their policy state that they’d charge customers $500 for every negative review, but they waited days before denying it (when there was online evidence to prove otherwise). Needless to say, non-customers of this hotel had a field day with the situation via new online reviews.

With all the information available on the Internet at the click of a button, tactless online responses will only get you magnified negative attention. If someone is unhappy with their vehicle or service at your dealership, don’t get defensive - and don’t lie.

Instead, extend a clear apology and use that opportunity to flip the script and highlight your dealerships attributes (how long you’ve been in business and the kind of customer service you strive for) - this will show readers that you value your dealership’s reputation. Then offer to give them proactive solutions by directing them to the appropriate point of contact to address their issues (name, phone number, email address) or invite them to live chat with you.

For inspiration on how to tactfully respond to online reviews, check out Parks Chevrolet at the Lake’s Facebook reviews - they always prompt customers to contact them if they were rated anything below 5 stars!

TIP: Always review your responses a few times before you post. Pay attention to grammar, cohesiveness, and most importantly, tone.

USE PERSONALIZED RESPONSES

The main reason you want to write more personalized responses versus canned ones is because the shopper will know the difference. You don’t want customers thinking you don’t care enough to put thought into your answer to their comment when they did so for you.

Simple things like including the customer’s name in your response, and even offer them a helpful tip on new-car care if they just purchased a vehicle from you, can personalize a review response. Some dealerships go as far as finding out details about the shopper’s experience (if they traded in a beloved vehicle or they went with all-leather interiors on the new one) and including fun details about it in their response.

Schumacher Chevrolet does a great job at responding to all their reviews, but also making them personable. Take a look at their Dealer Rater review page for some great examples.

TIP: If your customer includes the name of the dealership employee who helped them, have them write a short thank you to the customer (review it before you post). This will add a personal touch to the message and show customers that ALL of your team is involved in your dealership’s success.

ENCOURAGE THEM TO POST

According to a 2014 study, 88% of customers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business.

When a customer is happy with their shopping experience, seize that opportunity to get them to post a review of you! Give them links to your review pages and let them know you take customers’ opinions seriously and read your feedback daily. But don’t be pushy, sometimes just letting customers (especially millennials) know of your online presence will be enough to prompt them to review you.

Also, if you’re pushing for customer reviews, don’t specify that you want positive reviews only. Instead, welcome all kinds of feedback - remember that you can use the negative ones as an improvement tool and as a way to get those unimpressed customers back!

TIP: Make it easier for your shoppers to post reviews about you. Have a “give us feedback” button on your site, include a link to your dealership’s page on a review site within a follow-up email, or set up an in-store review station at the dealership with an iPad.

SHARE THEM ON YOUR WEBSITE

Having customer reviews on your website will help generate more business by increasing your dealership’s credibility and building its reputation. In giving online shoppers access to your reviews on your page, you are allowing them to assess your qualities based on what real customers say about you.

It’s great to have a testimonials section, but also try to give shoppers access to other review pages like Yelp and Google+, and even reviews on your social media pages. These sites are more reliable since your dealership has little-to-no control over the content that customers post.

TIP: Instead of using social media buttons on your dealership’s website, use a social media toolbar like ActivConnect at the bottom of your page. This allows shoppers to see your review pages and social media pages without ever leaving your site!  

 

 

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Do you think responding to negative feedback is important? Why or why not? And what’s your dealership’s current strategy on responding to customer reviews? Share your insight below.

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Tags: dealership, feedback, online, responding, reviews, to

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