Managing your automotive dealership’s reputation has never been more important. Why? According to a recent survey, 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. Furthermore, the automotive industry is one of the top five industries in which consumers are most likely to read reviews.
What these consumers read online can impact where they spend money, too. Over two-thirds of consumers said they would be more likely to use a local business with positive reviews. On the other hand, 40% of consumers said they would be less likely to use a local business with negative reviews.
Based on these statistics, it’s clear that how you manage your online reputation could make or break your automotive dealership. Here’s what to do:
SET UP ACCOUNTS ON POPULAR REVIEW SITES
The first step in online reputation management is setting up accounts for your dealership on all of the popular review sites. Google, Facebook, and Yelp are three of the biggest players in this market, but there are also a number of other review sites that are specific to the automotive industry, including:
- Car Gurus
Setting up accounts for your dealership on these websites is crucial to managing your online reputation. If you don’t take this step, you won’t be able to properly monitor or respond to new reviews.
CREATE COMMUNICATION GUIDELINES
Before you start responding to reviews, you will need to establish communication guidelines for your automotive dealership. This is especially important if more than one person will be responsible for monitoring and responding to online comments and reviews. This way, everyone will be on the same page regarding the best way to manage your online reputation.
You can choose what you want to include in these guidelines, but here are some general tips:
- Decide how you want to prioritize reviews. What type of review or comment warrants an immediate response? For example, if you receive a generic positive review about your business on the weekend, you can wait until Monday to respond since this is not considered urgent.
- Establish a clear tone of voice for your dealership.
- Create response templates for different types of reviews and comments. Your team should not copy these responses word-for-word whenever they respond, but they can use these templates as examples when crafting their own responses.
- Determine how and when to escalate reviews. If a customer complains about being treated poorly at your dealership, for example, you may want your team to pass this complaint along to management.
Make sure everyone who could be tasked with monitoring and responding to online comments has a copy of these guidelines.
RESPOND TO REVIEWS
Responding to every online review is an important part of online reputation management. The person who left the review isn’t the only one who will read your response. Nearly three-fourths of consumers read responses to reviews when searching for local businesses. What you say in these responses could impact whether or not they choose to do business with your dealership.
Your approach to responding will vary depending on whether it is a positive or negative review. But first, make sure you are logged into your dealership’s account on the review site. This way, everyone will know that your dealership is the one responding to the review.
Many dealers make the mistake of ignoring positive reviews. But responding to these reviews will show your customers that you appreciate their business and are grateful that they went out of their way to leave positive feedback. Plus, if you only respond to negative reviews, customers might assume that the only way to get your attention is to complain.
So, how should your dealership respond to positive reviews? Think about how you would respond if the customer was giving you this positive feedback in person. You would probably start by addressing the customer by name and saying thank you, so that’s exactly what you should do in your response to their review, too. Don’t just thank them for their kind words. You should also thank them for taking the time to write a review for your business.
Then, personalize your response by mentioning the specific thing they raved about in their review. For example, say a customer leaves a positive review about how well she was treated while buying a car from your dealership. You may want to say something like this in your response:
“Thank you for telling us about your positive experience with our sales team. We pride ourselves on providing exceptional customer service, so we’re so happy to hear that our efforts have resonated with you!”
If the customer calls out a specific member of your team by name, let them know that you will pass along their kind words. Then, wrap up your response by saying you look forward to seeing them again in the future. Depending on the situation, you could even invite them back to your dealership for specific services.
Every dealership will have to deal with negative reviews at some point. This is just a fact of life, so try not to take these reviews too personally.
The key to effectively responding to negative reviews is taking the H.E.A.T. This customer service acronym stands for:
- Hear them out
- Take responsibility and action
You can take care of hearing them out simply by reading their review in most cases. But sometimes, you may want to give the customer an opportunity to tell you more about their experience. In cases like these, ask them how you can get in touch with them to learn more about what happened.
Next, empathize with them by acknowledging that their emotions are justified based on the negative experience they had at your dealership. Then, apologize on behalf of your dealership. You don’t need to go into a lot of detail. In fact, it’s best to keep the apology portion of your response short and sweet.
The final step is taking responsibility and action. Taking responsibility means owning up to the fact that the customer did not have a pleasant experience at your dealership. Don’t make excuses or try to justify why something happened. Own it completely.
Then, tell them what action you are going to take as a result of their review. Sometimes, you may be able to make it right by inviting them back to your dealership for free or discounted services. In other cases, taking action might be reviewing your dealership’s policies or disciplining an employee who acted unprofessionally.
You may not be able to win back every customer who had a negative experience at your dealership, but you should still respond to every negative review. Why? Remember, the customer who left the review is not the only one who is reading your response. Other people who are deciding where to go to buy a car are also reading these responses. You should use your response as an opportunity to show these potential customers that you are committed to exceeding your customers’ expectations.
ENCOURAGE CUSTOMERS TO LEAVE REVIEWS
There are several reasons why you should be actively encouraging customers to leave reviews of your dealership online. First, potential customers aren’t just looking at the quality of reviews when searching for local automotive dealerships. Quantity is important, too. If you only have a few reviews, this might hurt your chances of winning their business.
Getting more positive reviews can also reduce the impact of a few negative reviews. If your dealership has 50 positive reviews and 3 negative reviews, potential customers will most likely ignore the 3 negative reviews.
Leaving an online review takes time and effort, so it’s not always easy to get customers to follow through. These tips might help:
- Remind your customers when you see them in person or when you contact them via email or phone.
- Add links to review sites in your email signature.
- Create a pop-up for your website that directs visitors to online review sites.
- Allow customers to leave reviews while they’re at your dealership. Put a tablet out for customers to use to quickly write a review while they are in your dealership’s waiting area.
Do not reward customers for leaving reviews. Many review sites, including Google, prohibit businesses from offering customers rewards or incentives in exchange for reviews. If you violate these rules, these sites may remove all of your online reviews.
MONITOR BRAND MENTIONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Managing your online reviews is the most significant component of online reputation management, but you should also be monitoring your brand mentions on social media.
There are many tools that make it easier to monitor mentions of your brand on social media. However, if you don’t want to pay for these tools, you can manually monitor your mentions by searching for your company’s name on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms. Performing these searches on a regular basis will help you stay in the loop about what the public is saying about you.
Of course, you should also monitor and respond to comments on your social media pages. When responding to these comments, use the same guidelines you established for online reviews. Following the same set of guidelines will ensure your brand’s voice and approach stays consistent across all platforms.