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Managing Your Online Reputation
This is the final installment to my 5 part series on how to become a 5 star dealership. We have discussed the initial phone call, the personalized price quote, the follow-up process, capitalizing your service marketing and now we are going to discuss how to manage your online reputation.
Today's shoppers are online before they are in your store, especially when it comes to shopping for a vehicle. One of the first things they do before contacting a dealership is checkout their online reputation. What other people are saying or aren't saying matters. It has never made sense to me that in most dealerships there is no one that is actively managing and responding to reviews, positive or negative. All it takes is one negative review to turn away a customer. In the information that follows I will give you a solid strategy to manage and build your online reputation.
The first thing that you need to do is to claim your dealership on all review sites and setup auto email responses to all reviews posted. Then you need to have the person assigned to follow-up reviewing all reviews to see which ones may require immediate action.
Preventing Negative Reviews
Managing complaints quickly and correctly is crucial to preventing a negative review. The most effective way to manage online complaints is to PREVENT them. This is done by following up with every customer and addressing any issues immediately before they have the chance to create a negative review. Every customer that comes into your dealership should receive a follow-up call no more than two days after their visit. When a follow-up call is made the customer immediately sees an opportunity to voice their complaint. If the complaint is addressed immediately they feel that they have been heard, that they are appreciated and the complaint is being addressed; then it no longer needs to be voiced through a survey or negative review. We have already discussed this in part 3, so if you are looking for a specific process take a look.
Responding to Negative Reviews
There is no way that you can remove a negative review once it is posted. The only way to remove it is to eliminate the problem and convince the customer to remove the complaint themselves. The first thing that should be done is that any negative review should be responded to online immediately. The response should be something like this: "I am the Service (or Sales) Director for (Dealership) and I am so sorry that you were not satisfied with your experience. However we pride ourselves in providing the best customer service in the business and would very much like the opportunity to speak with you personally to make sure that this never happens again and to make sure that we correct this issue for you immediately. Please contact me at (dealer #)"
From this point, no further interaction should be made online, no matter what the response is you should always direct them to contact you. Furthermore, the name of the person leaving the review should be an indicator as to who you need to look up in your records to contact. Whoever you have in place to handle your follow-up calls should be able to follow-up with any negative reviews immediately.
Eliminating Negative Reviews
Any customer that leaves a negative review is considered top priority until the review is removed. No matter how small the complaint is (or petty) you have to remain professional and do whatever it takes to get that customer to a point where they feel that they should remove the review.
When contacting a person that has left a negative review the response should be something like this: "I understand, you are unhappy with _____________________ and you would like ___________________, is this correct?" First you need to repeat their complaint and what they are asking for so that they know that you are listening and understand what they are wanting.
The next thing that needs to be communicated is "I can certainly understand how frustrating that is, I am sorry for the inconvenience, but I want you to know that we are going to correct the problem right away. Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know that you are unhappy." After you have clarified what their complaint is and what they are looking for in return, you deliver. For a more detailed process on this, see part 3.
Once you have addressed the complaint and the customer is either in the dealership or on the phone you need to ask them to have a seat or hold and let them know that the store manager would like to have a word with them.
The store manager needs to be very authoritative on this call/meeting. When he speaks he needs to be firm, but respectful. His response should go something like this: "Mrs./ Mr. (customer name), I understand that you were not completely satisfied with your most recent visit because (initial complaint)." Give a pause for the customer to respond. "Thank you for taking the time to notify us of the problem, and I do apologize for the inconvenience. I want you to know that I strive for nothing less than outstanding customer service at our dealership and I can assure you that this will not happen again. Have we addressed the issue for you and are you completely satisfied with the outcome that we have provided?" Pause for a response and if the answer is no then the store manager needs to take action to get the answer to yes. However, if you have a good team in place, the answer should always be yes. Then he can close the call or meeting with "I am glad to hear it. There is something that we need you to do for us. Since we have addressed the issue and you have let me know that you are completely satisfied with the outcome, I would like to ask you to please remove the negative review that you have made against us as it falsely represents our dealership." If the customer refuses to remove the negative review, then ask him/her to please add what you have done to correct the complaint and if they still won't do that, then you will simply have to go in and respond with what you have done to make the customer happy. If a prospect sees that you care and are making an effort to address every complaint, they will skip over it because it was addressed.
I wanted to get into a strategy to encourage positive reviews, but this took longer to explain then I thought, so I will be doing a post on how to encourage positive reviews soon. Leave your comments below on your tips on managing negative reviews below. I will definitely have more coming on managing your reputation soon.
See you at the top!
Just Write Marketing Inc.