17 Sep Tips for Managing Your Dealership's Online Reputation

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Everybody has an opinion when it comes to car dealerships.  Each person is going to have their rant or complaint about one they’ve encountered, and you don’t want it to be yours.  With the internet, that rant and rave is going to be out there for all to see within just a few clicks and keystrokes…whether you think that opinion is valid or not.

Online reviews are coming up higher and higher in search results, and that’s what consumers are looking for when they search for you online.  When consumers go to buy a car or get their car serviced, they want it done by someone they can trust, so reviews are especially important in the dealership world.  Plus, not only will the negative reviews damage your reputation, but they’ll also damage your search ranking, as Google is now taking negative reviews into consideration in their algorithm.

Reputation management has to be a crucial part of your online strategy.  The more aware of the negative comments you are, the better you can respond to them and avoid any potential damage done.  It can be a difficult business, so we’ve decided to share some of our tips and tricks with you on what NOT to do and some simple things you can do to start managing your rep.

What We Know: The Statistics

  • 92% of new-vehicle buyers use the internet regularly, and 77% use it to help them in their vehicle-shopping process [J.D. Power and Associates, 2011]
  • 91% of consumers said they would use reviews when deciding on a dealership [Driverside/Kelton Research Study, April 2011]
  • 72% of consumers said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations [Local Consumer Review Survey, 2012]
  • 62% of consumers said they would change their mind after reading 1-3 negative reviews about a product or service [Lightspeed Research Study, March 2011]
  • 1 negative social media review can cost you 30 new customers [Survey by Covergys Corp.]
  • An unhappy customer will tell 9-15 others about their experience, and 13% of unhappy customers will tell more than 20 people [White House Office of Consumer Affairs]

After reading all these statistics, it makes a lot of sense that businesses are spending more time and money than ever trying to manage their online reviews.  Just a few bad comments can produce a remarkable decrease in your sales.

However, many are going about it unethically or don’t realize that the person they have hired to take care of it is using immoral practices.  There’s no shortcut or quick way around it.  It’s an extension of your customer service – you have to take some time to manage your relationships and interactions with your customers who are going online.

What NOT To Do

DO NOT ignore negative reviews.

They won’t go away.  Even if you think the complaint is false or unwarranted, take steps to respond and resolve the situation so you can maintain your reputation.

DO NOT forget to respond to the original review at the source.

In some cases when reading a bad review, you might know exactly who the customer is and want to call them directly to address the problem.  That’s fine, but don’t leave the online review without a response.  Others who see it will think you did nothing about the complaint.

DO NOT pay for a review or hire someone to write reviews.

This is highly unethical.  You are lying to your customer, and this could lead to the dealership review site being shut down.

DO NOT allow customers to post reviews from the dealership.

Too many reviews in a single day or month or from the same location, device, or IP address will be removed and filtered by Google.

DO NOT only ask for positive reviews.

You are missing a great opportunity to stop a complaint before it goes on a review site if you don’t ask for the negative, too.  Most consumers who share their complaint with you directly won’t go further and post it on a 3rd party site.

Reputation Management Best Practices

1. Register Your Dealership

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The first step in online reputation management is to claim your online business listings.  Make sure you have registered and created accounts to manage your listings on the top ranking sites including Yelp, Google, CitySearch, Yellow Pages, and Yahoo.  You can also include other popular ones like Facebook, Bing, Edmunds, and Cars.com. Once you have an account, you can add or correct information like your logo, address, business hours, phone number, and website URL.  Be consistent in the information you post to each site.

2. Monitor Comments

On most popular review sites, it’s nearly impossible to have a negative review taken down or deleted, but by creating the above accounts, you can respond to the naysayers.  Make it a part of your routine to check these comments on a regular basis so you can respond in a timely manner.

3. Encourage Reviews

By encouraging your customers to give you feedback, you can show that you are concerned about their experience and want to do whatever you can to help them with the services they need.  It helps to show that you are trustworthy and have the customer’s best interests in mind.

One way to do this is to send an email encouraging reviews after purchase or service.  Check out the example below.

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The best time to ask for a review is within 48 hours of the customer being in the dealership. This way, their experience is still fresh.

In the email, link your customers to 3rd party review sites to leave a review, and include a “Not Satisfied” button that links to a contact form to get in touch with a manager.

This email can do two important things:

  • Increase the number of positive customer reviews for your dealership
  • Give you an opportunity to handle a complaint first before it goes further

Also make your email mobile-friendly as 70% of consumers delete an email if it looks bad on a mobile device [Bluehornet Report].

4. Respond to Negative Reviews

When you do encounter a negative review, it’s important to respond quickly and effectively.  Make sure your response is posted on the review site so others that read the poster’s negative comments can see you took action.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Be Personal – Address the person by name if you have it, and introduce yourself by name and position.
  • Apologize – Tell them you are sorry for inconvenience and the way they were treated.
  • Offer a Solution – Ensure them that you will correct the situation. Include any specifics you can.
  • Include Contact Info – List your email address or phone number (with extension) so they can contact you directly to discuss the issue.
  • Thank Them – Make sure you show your appreciation for their understanding and their business.

It can be hard to read a negative review, because you may not want to believe that you or one of your employees did something wrong, but mistakes happen in any business. Be prepared to respond to these situations in a calm and polite matter.  Be open to critiques and comments, and show that you are doing something to prevent any problems from occurring in the future.

Need help with your advertising? At Chumney & Associates, we are experts in all your digital needs including reputation management.  Call us at 561-882-0066 or visit www.ChumneyAds.com to get started promoting your business.

By: Mike Chumney

Contributor: Marisa Markwardt

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