We often tell our clients that we'll get them more complaints than any other reputation…
It’s never good to take something for granted, and unfortunately, we have. We’ve assumed that dealers are pretty much all aware of the easiest way to gain control of their online reputation, but we’re finding out every day that there are still plenty of dealers who are not familiar with how this works.
In reality, using the word “control” is not appropriate. Nobody can control their reputation. They can influence it, but control is impossible because we’re all at hands of people who may or may not appreciate what we do at the dealership. You can give someone the best deal possible, treat them with utter respect, and still find out that they left a negative review on the internet. This is a pain point that cannot be completely controlled, but we can do the things that help make it easier for you reputation… and sanity.
Here are some of the things we do and that we recommend to dealers:
Email Your Customers as Soon as Possible
The easiest way to get reviews on sites like Google+, DealerRater, Cars.com, and Yelp is to encourage them to leave feedback. You can do this at the dealership and there are advantages to doing this, but there are two big challenges to this technique. First, it’s hard to manage everyone who touches customers, whether it’s the sales team, finance, service, or the internet department. Even if you have a great process in place, having them ask for reviews from their customers is hit or miss. They’ll all say they do it, but many do not. It’s not an easy question to ask for some people.
More importantly, it’s hard to make the in-store reviews work because of mobile interactivity and IP tracking. These are technical components of the review process. It’s hard to get people to leave a long, thoughtful review on their smartphone and trying with an in-store device gives you IP problems.
Our recommendation is to email them with links to the review sites that can make a difference. Selecting those links is the hard part. Getting those emails through the spam filters is the harder part. That’s why we use a very friendly email style and set of servers to make sure we get maximum penetration.
Give them an Outlet to Complain
One of the most important parts of our technique is that we encourage people who are not completely satisfied to contact us directly. This is ideal compared to getting them on public sites where there is no control at all other than the ability to reply.
If they have a concern, let them voice it. They want to tell someone. Make sure you’re listening. On our landing pages, we make sure that the “not satisfied” button is prominent so they can get a direct line to the owner/GM and have the ability to voice their concerns directly rather than publicly.
Do NOT Filter Responses
The easiest way to get in trouble is to filter people. Some companies are promoting the concept of sending out a survey first to get their sentiment. They then either send links to the review sites if the sentiment was positive or they send a link to a direct complaint area that is not public if their sentiment was negative.
This is against the rules. Dealers that get caught trying to manipulate their online reputation by only sending happy customers to review sites through a two-step filtering process run the risk of getting more negative press than they would ever have received from a negative review. Transparency is imperative in order to build trust and people are seeing stories every week on major publications that discuss this sort of filtering review manipulation. That’s why we opted to use the transparent one-step process that has no filtering. It’s legit, and at the end of the day that’s more important than an extra positive review.
Why Your Database Matters
We know that you have happy customers. You do, too. That’s why we take advantage of your most valuable asset, your customer database, to find the people to review you. Keep in mind that this isn’t a bulk play. We want people to review us because they liked their experience at the dealership. We want them to give us feedback that can help the dealership to improve. The only difference between the two is that the first one should be public and the second one should be private. It’s best for everyone involved.