Automotive Digital Marketing

Professional Community for Car Dealers, Marketing, Advertising and Sales Leaders

Loading... Be Patient!

Your Online Reputation Is Hurting Your Customer Retention: 6 Tips To Create Customer Loyalty and Maintain Your Online Reputation

Statistics show that a customer who has a good experience will tell 4 to 5 people. However, a customer who has a bad experience will tell more than 20. In addition, they will usually leave a negative review to go with that word of mouth to leave a permanent finger pointed at your dealership in a bad way.


Maintaining your online reputation is crucial to new customers and previous customers deciding whether to make you their choice. If you don’t manage complaints and deal with them effectively, you are losing what could be a loyal customer and preventing prospects from ever becoming loyal customers.


But maintaining that reputation doesn’t start online, it starts at your dealership with each and every customer.


Here are 6 Tips to Maintaining a Great Online Reputation:

         1.    Have someone assigned to monitoring your review sites.

It is important to know what is being said about you in the digital world. By knowing when a negative review is posted, you can have someone handle the complaint immediately, and hopefully have the customer revise their complaint into a compliment, (preferably BEFORE anyone sees the complaint).


        2.    Know How to Handle Complaints.

Everyone in your dealership should be able to “manage” their own complaints. If you are the only one equipped to handle complaints, this may monopolize your time, thus eliminating the time needed for planning, strategizing and development your department and your dealership.


        3.    Prevent Negative Reviews with Great Follow-Up.

A follow-up phone call should be made to each and every customer 24 hours after their purchase or service visit to make sure that they are completely satisfied. It is important that the person making these calls have the authority and knowledge to handle complaints and who to assign a customer to should they need to return. Having a minimum wage college student handle this for you may actually cause more miscommunication and dissatisfaction in the long run. Put someone in place that understands how a dealership runs and has a strict guideline for how to handle a complaint.


       4.    Give Great Customer Service.

I know this one should be a given, but I want to emphasize that great customer service includes knowledge, honesty, quality and sincerity. You can’t just put a smile on your face and expect people to worship you. You have to know your product so that you can answer their questions and gain their trust. Be sincere and let them know that you are there to help them, not rip them off. When you are not sincere, it shows and makes the customer leery.


        5.    Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Positive Review.

A lot of customers don’t even know that you have a review site or even think to post a review unless they are upset. Asking a satisfied customer to post a quick comment about why they love your dealership will give your online reputation a huge boost. Whoever you have making your follow-up calls could request this, or if you have a follow-up email created to go out to customers you could include a link in the email to make it easier for the customer. But it is important that if you include this in an email that you give the customer the option to voice a complaint. This can be a link that will allow them to submit a complaint to the General Manager. Otherwise, only having a link to POST a review could lead to more damage.


         6.    Know How to Handle a Negative Review.

When a negative review is posted, you need to do damage control and FAST. Before you contact the customer, do your research.

  • Who was the advisor and technician or salesperson?
  • What did they purchase or what service did they have done?
  • Will they need to return to the dealership?
  • How long have they been a customer?


When you contact the customer you should know and anticipate what they will say, want and need. Your ONLY goal should be to please that customer, not defend your dealership.


In conclusion, by preparing for complaints and negative reviews and knowing what to do to prevent negative reviews and unsatisfied customers, you will be able to proactively manage and build your online reputation to secure a life long supply of loyal customers.


We would like to know what strategies you have in place to build your online reputation and what you would recommend to our followers. What have you done to build your online reputation?

Views: 856

Tags: automotive, customer, loyalty, negative, online, positive, reputation, review, service


Oops... You need to stop "Lurking" on ADM and become a more genuine Automotive Professional by completing your membership registration. As a registered ADM Member, you can post comments, publish your own articles (be a star!) and start Forum discussions. Stop being an online "Peeping Tom" and JOIN ADM RIGHT NOW!

Join Automotive Digital Marketing

Comment by Alexander Lau on March 15, 2013 at 9:52am

Mike, indeed, thanks your effort and post! I just encountered a situation with a client that was fairly awful in terms of review left and they managed to alleviate the situation through the correct processes. Meaning, reaching out to them personally to find out what went wrong and compensating / accommodating them for their problems.

Comment by Mike Gorun on March 15, 2013 at 9:49am

Great input about point #2; not everyone in the dealership should handle their own complaints, but have at least several people trained on how to do this; and Don Graff it's great that you handled the complaints personally. I agree Glenn, top down involvement is necessary. I think there is a much greater awareness that ignoring bad reviews hurts a reputation to the extent that you may as well send customers to your competition.

Comment by Kathleen Perley on March 14, 2013 at 12:39pm

Great insight, I like step 6 about handling negative reviews.  Sometimes you can even get a negative review pulled out if they violate a review sites policy. Download this free guide to getting review pulled at

Comment by DON GRAFF on March 12, 2013 at 4:58pm
To me Mike is hitting the nail right on the head. I can remember handling complaints as GSM and GM when our dealership flat out did the wrong thing. I believe that cool heads prevail. I would need time to research the incident so I would ask our customer what they would like me to do. I would write it down while we were talking so they knew I was working with them. I promised to get back to them ASAP. 9 times out of 10 the customer was right. I would personally get the work order if it was a service issue and checking it myself. Then the tech and service advisor would explain the story in their words. We talked about why it happened , how we would do more than the customer expected and avoid in future. I seldom lost a customer using this method and in fact know we had repeat and referral business .
After 30 years doing the right thing does not change. Now besides word of mouth we are aware of online consequences too numerous to mention. Step up and do it now. I'm with Jason in supporting your people by giving them tools.
Comment by Glenn Pasch on March 11, 2013 at 7:27am

Mike, great post. I agree and have been educating dealers for the last few years on this same issue. All of these steps will greatly enhance their reputation online and then if they are really looking to up the ante, they can learn ways to leverage these reviews to market to the next group of customers. The main point that sometimes gets lost is that this is a TOP down issue. If ownership is not involved and embracing this issue as relevant and important, advocates at a lower level will give up. Thanks for the post. 

Comment by Alexander Lau on March 11, 2013 at 5:58am

Exactly Jason, you can't just throw this at a dealership that fails to understand their RM strategy and the components / resources to facilitate the strategy.

As Jason stated, at least one, preferably two people handling it. I've training dealers on this method. Actually, regardless of the automated system in place at, Edmunds, DealerRater and the newbie on the block for women drivers @, there should be a champion under each rooftop.

Comment by Jason Mickelson on March 8, 2013 at 2:23pm

Alexander and Michal have echoed one side of the coin and that is why I asked for more details regarding the plan. Everyone in the dealership must be educated on customer service and handling issues as they arise. Eliminating customer frustration is easier when we first learn of the concern.  Usually this is when they are at the dealership in front of someone employed by the dealership.

Once a problem hits the web for all to see, I believe the dealer should have a team (more than one person) of people who address and respond. This team should be dealership representatives in my opinion.  These are red alert situations that must be handled carefully by professionals.  The public is watching.  Training everyone to respond publicly seems like a bit of a stretch. If everyone at the dealership is trained to eliminate problems before they are huge web liabilities you will be far ahead of your competition. Then, the extras that slip by the first line of defense are cleaned up by the online reputation committee for your dealership.

Remember to handle these gently.  A great way to train how to handle these situations might be having your team read or listen to Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”   Remember to look at these complaints through the other person’s perspective and plan your responses.  Never respond when mad. :)

Comment by Michal Lusk on March 8, 2013 at 7:41am

I agree with Alexander Lau that a central face of customer satisfaction is a better way to go, but I think that all dealership personnel need to know what to do with customer questions and complaints as stated in point #2. Sales and service staff are usually unsuited for handling complaints by both training and temperament, and there are very few that have the ability to correctly respond to public complaints online. But without training and an attitude from the dealership that complaints are a part of doing business and must be correctly handled, many sales consultants will cover up or ignore customer questions, requests, and problems after the sale until they blow up into an angry customer or a scathing review. Making sure that both dealership personnel and customers know who to contact or what to do is key to keeping little questions or problems from spiraling out of control. Having a good process for complaints and questions at the dealership, and the right person to follow through, results in the kind of online reputation that drives customers to the showroom.

Comment by Alexander Lau on March 8, 2013 at 6:25am

I disagree with #2. Hire or dedicate an in-house champion for this process. I work for an automotive digital agency and by no means is it easy to track down whom is whom (handling complaints) at a dealership with multiple locations. Mom and pops, much more easily done. In terms of where these might originate, it could be anything that pissed off the customer during the buying process. I've seen some crazy issues in the past. It's far too complicated of an equation to guess or use generic responses. As you've pointed out, you need a strategy for this undertaking. You need a strategy for any form of an attach on your reputation, but especially online reviews.

Comment by Jason Mickelson on March 7, 2013 at 8:54pm

Mike, I just re-read through this post.  In #2, is their a specific type of complaint, or perhaps a source where these complaints might originate?

Automotive Professional Network and Resource Exchange for Car Dealers, Managers, OEM and Marketing Practitioners seeking Best Practices.

ADM Sponsor

William B. Terry
Rated by Super Lawyers

loading ...

ADM Badge


Based On Your Interests...

ADM Consulting, LLC

Onsite/Offsite Combination ADM Consulting, LLC Professional Services
Select the maximum monthly investment you plan to make
Sign up for

Automotive Marketing Tools

Get ADM Toolbar

Click here to take the ADM Member Survey

Getting too many emails from ADM? Click mailbox below to control which types of alerts and updates you are sent......



ADM Professional Services
Phone Consultation
Topic or Issue:

Top Automotive Marketing Forum Discussions

Share the Best Content w/AutoMarketing Community

© 2020   Created by Ralph Paglia.   Powered by

ADM Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service