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Do Dealers Need to Respond to EVERY Customer Review?

By Mary-Kelly Gaebel

Is your dealership sending the message that you expect 5-star reviews... OR that you just have too much time on your hands?


There's a great deal of information out there on how, when, and why

you should respond to a customer review. What might often seem like common sense can become downright confusing, especially when you come across advice that claims that you should NOT even respond to negative reviews!


So what gives!?  When should you respond to a review?  Doesn't each and every customer deserve a follow-up when they leave a negative review or a "thank you" for the kind words they post in a glowing recommendation on your 3rd party review sites? The answer may surprise you.


Here are the 3 questions I hear most from dealers building their review response strategies and my thoughts on each subject, to help you make the best decision for your business.

Q: Should I respond to negative reviews?


The faster you're able to respond with a resolution the better. The practice shows the individual customer that you care and want to do right by the customer; in turn this same sentiment can help
influence prospective consumers who come across the negative review and your response during their car-shopping journey. Often, a negative review can be your dealership’s greatest asset.

Q: Should I respond to positive reviews?


Responding to a customer’s positive comments shows engagement. By responding you're telling consumers who visit the review site that someone from your dealership is reading these online reviews and more importantly… is listening to consumer feedback, both positive and negative.

Q: Should I respond to EVERY positive review?


This is where experts and novices disagree. I don’t suggest responding to every single positive review. I like the concept of responding to every 1 in 7 positive reviews. Consumers want to hear what your sales and service customers have to say about your dealership; that means the good, the bad, and the occasional train wreck. What consumers don’t want is to read through a myriad of responses from the business owner that overshadow the customer voice.

To help further illustrate, here are a few more reasons why responding to every positive review is not in the best interest of your dealership:

  • The practice can appear disingenuous and cheesy to consumers. The 1-7 Rule allows your dealership to truly thank someone who provided a glowing review; it draws attention to it and does not detract or get lost in the clutter of business-owner responses.
  • There are only so many ways to say “Thank you!” Over time your responses start to appear as if they're automated. You never want to give the impression that there is not an actual person at your dealership behind those responses.
  • Ask yourself--- Are customers seeing every “thank you” as considerate, or just you giving yourself a big pat on the back?
  • What message are you truly sending to your customers by responding to every positive review? The best way to illustrate what I mean by asking this is with my favorite quote on the subject, courtesy of John Stevens with CustomerLink (while it may be a year old, the message still rings loud and clear to me and should for your dealership as well).

By saying nothing at all, you are really saying... 'I expect glowing 5-star reviews because I run a tight ship and I take pride in my work. In fact my business is so busy right now due to my superior service that I don’t have time to sit around and respond to every positive review that comes in.' Play it cool; that’s the best way to go in this situation.

                                                                         -John Stevens, Online Marketing Manager,CustomerLink


Do you agree that dealerships should "play it cool" when it comes to responding to customer reviews? What about my 1 in 7 Rule? Would you change your ratio?



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About the Author

Mary Kelly Gaebel , Automotive Reputation Management Specialist Mary-Kelly Gaebel is a Reputation Management Specialist at Cobalt, proactively monitoring and managing dealerships' online reputations while working with dealers to increase dealership awareness and branding via social media outlets. She has a B.A. in Communications from the University of Washington. Feel free to reach out to Mary-Kelly directly at

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Tags: automotive, dealers, download, eBook, managment, marketing, reputation, reviews


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