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It’s not what invalidates an online review, it’s who:  The Internet Shopper.  It won’t matter if all your reviews are 5-star and earned, and/or if all your reviews also have great grammar and spelling, and they all come 100% from real customers.  Even if that is the 100% truth for your dealership, you don’t appear to have valid reviews--because nobody is perfect, and shoppers know that.

And I know a dealer who says he has exactly that situation:  5-star reviews earned and all with great writing and grammar, and he says that they are real reviews by real customers.  Even I have trouble believing that, and I have a high opinion of the dealer!!   To someone shopping, however, it’s worse than that and the truth does NOT matter—this looks false to a shopper.  However, having some reviews that were bad and that you responded to positively as the owner makes your real reviews look real and you look like the fair business you are.

We get the real reviews we get, so to that dealer who says they get these reviews from real customers who just happen to write well, then they may not look real on the Web, which can be unfortunate.  In this case, he says it can’t be helped.  However, over all the hundreds of reviews I’ve now seen from other dealers all over (not just my area), I can say it is far more typical to get reviews that are not all 5-star and not all great.  And not all written with perfect English skills.  Many are short and sweet, as well.

An example of reviews that are patently false comes from a dealer who is in my own area that has perfect reviews, clearly purchased from a shady “review service”—easy to see, since 20 of the latest reviewers also bought cars in three other states.  At the same time.  A bit more of a coincidence than one should accept, especially since these reviewers also stayed at hotels nowhere near these dealerships in an area stretching from Austin to Canada!

And then there is a dealer that I know very well who gets real reviews from real people, and he gets the one-stars and the five-stars.  His average on Google, for example, is 4 out of 5, and he regularly replies as owner to reviews, good and bad, and he does so positively.  And I think he reflects the vast majority of dealers who are getting reviews today.

So, what should you do?  Get honest reviews, however they come out.  And just accept that some will be bad reviews, and don’t get upset if that happens to you!  Merely reply as the owner to your best position and STAY POSITVE.  You may even thank them for the review, because if nothing else it cleared up some process issues for you that will help your future customers.  And be happy to get those 5-stars, too, and let that be your goal to always achieve the best.  You won't, but you should always try.  It will make you look more real to shoppers, which is what you will deserve.

Because being perfect is not possible.  And the appearance of perfection, even if that appearance of perfection is really earned, will hurt you and isn’t the point.  Be a real dealership online as you are in person.

True greatness isn’t perfect:  Flaws inspire, too.  And real people buy from real dealerships.  And they can tell who is real and who is not in the online reviews, and they will invalidate those reviews that don't seem real, at least in their online research--and online is where everybody starts vehicle shopping nowadays.

You knew that already, though, didn’t you?

So go get those reviews!!

by Keith Shetterly,
Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved

Views: 468


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Comment by Aj Maida on December 8, 2011 at 6:09am

I so agree with @Keith, nothing is more powerful then a video testimonial. Getting the salesperson to ask for one is the problem. Also remember that video SEO is so powerful. Just learn from my mistake. Make them look as impromptu as possible. Watch the two videos I posted below and you will see. While Karen is honest and intelligent Danielle comes off as even more believable.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on December 7, 2011 at 2:09pm

@ Tom, I think video reviews trump everything.

Comment by Tom Gorham on December 7, 2011 at 2:04pm

Thank you Keith for Manny's reminder... I agree that words spoken from a customer mouth are more powerful than a written review.  I have tried as much as possible to get our sales staff to do video testimonials with their happy custmers.  I offer some examples for those who may feel intimidated by that prospect.

The real truth of the matter is, either you please your customers or you don't.  Angry customers will post reviews without you requesting it.  The key is to ask your happy customers to post.  Then, you are out of the loop, unless you believe in manipulating your reviews, which I believe is dangerous.

Comment by Aj Maida on December 7, 2011 at 2:01pm

@Tom: I would say that if you are just getting reviews from real customers organically and are doing a wonderful job you don't have to worry about it. There are always going to be some people who just will not give a perfect star rating no matter what. So you will always have those couple that will make you look "human".

On the video. Please just shoot live video. We produced some for an informercial. Shot them in front of a green screen and then put our logo in the background. While they are great, they just are too over produced. I think they work because we have "live" shot videos interspersed with them.



Comment by Tom Gorham on December 7, 2011 at 1:53pm

BTW, that is word-of-mouth marketing. Your customers are now in charge of your reputation.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on December 7, 2011 at 1:41pm

One point that my good friend Manny reminded me of just now:  Video, at the dealership, of customers is the most believable of all.  Thanks Manny!

Comment by Keith Shetterly on December 7, 2011 at 1:37pm

@ Tom:  This post suggests no picture-perfect ratio.  The discussion supports, so far, the idea that perfection doesn't seem real.  Nothing any of us write is going to change human nature on that point.

And you may well be right that 5-star dealers do better than 4-star dealers.  There's so much that's not known about any of this--though it would be a clear win to be 5-star against a 3-star or less.  Like shoppers ceasing filling out forms for Internet leads over the last couple of years, folks will learn to "look beyond the star".

In that case, perfection is still not going to look real.  And perfection, by the way, isn't just in the # of stars that are rendered--this post actually looks past that into perfect ratings + perfect spelling + perfect grammar = perfectly likely to not be believed.

Achieving a perfect rating is very different than being a perfect dealership.  The first is possible for many reasons--the second is impossible.  No business is perfect.

Comment by Tom Gorham on December 7, 2011 at 1:32pm

I have a question for everyone.  If your reviews don't fit the picture perfect that is being talked about, what should you do?  You fall into one of three catagories... bad reviews, average reviews, and great reviews.  Ahem, this post suggests you are not worthy unless you are average.

If you fall into the bad review category, I suggest you look at your processes and your customer service.  How can you improve?

If you fall into the great customer service catagory... hmmmm, you either earned it or falsified your reviews. Yes?

If you falsified your reviews, you will pay for that eventually.  This is the age of technological enlightenment.  In plain English, "You will be found out eventually and embarrassed and disgraced in front of your potential customers."

If you earned your 5-star rating... kudos!  You will have the sweetest revenge... success.  Don't be ashamed or intimidated by those who are jealous of your success.

This post suggests that you must have a picture perfect, expert approved ratio of good to bad reviews.  Think about it.  That means "managed" reviews.  If you don't manage (manipulate) your reviews, you have no control over that.

This proposition is based on polls that state a customer will not believe a company is 5-star.  Good enough.  But I  submit there may be a difference in what customers say in polls and what they do in reality.  Test it out.  Do 5-star dealers do better than 4-star dealers?  Interesting experiment... 

Comment by David Johnson on December 6, 2011 at 2:38pm

This almost looks like I'm hijacking the thread but I promised I'd create this video yesterday, back before this thread got so big! LOL

Comment by Aj Maida on December 6, 2011 at 1:22pm

Most people who give a 2-3.5 star review are just looking for a little help. It is a great opportunity to shine and shine publicly!!!!! The people who give you a horrible review most of the time I just ask "What happened here? and tell them to contact me but I do it in the "owners voice" I use my cell phone and post that it is my cell phone. They never call but online it shows you are willing to make things right! @Cole it is a great tool in that it shows the salesmen the value of the review to them personally!!!!

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