Four Strategies to Supercharge Your Dealership Reviews
The era of online shopping has made customer reviews more important than ever in ensuring repeat and new business – companies like Amazon, eBay and Yelp have made reviewing your product and the service that provided it standard. Customers are more inclined to read reviews on a business’ website than seek word-of-mouth endorsements or go in blind.
Dealerships, more than any modern business, depend on these reviews. Consider that a new or used vehicle is among the most expensive and life-changing purchases a customer can make – this process, which carries with it a fair deal of anxiety, can be made more appealing and less stressful if there’s proof that other customers have had great experiences in your dealership. Ensuring you get reviews, respond to customer feedback online and streamline your review method can make the big difference between selling cars or watching them sit in the lot.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask
Consider the attitude that drives most customers to leave reviews on a business’ website. More often than not, that attitude is a negative one, and the review will correspondingly indicate failures in the business’ services or products. It’s not hard to see why this trend exists – customers who are upset will get a kind of catharsis from leaving a bad review, but customers who had their needs fully met are more likely to just tell their friends in person than go online.
That’s why so many businesses with great service and stellar products still have review pages overflowing with negative press – they don’t push satisfied customers to leave reviews online. Remember that review services often use an average of the overall ratings – while a single negative review can skew your overall score downwards, a positive review will do the same for a score that’s already low.
Don’t fret if you’ve had negative ratings so far – just ask, politely, if customers would like to report satisfied purchases online and don’t push if they aren’t interested. This is one of the crucial moves in making sure you have the best dealership advertising possible.
Respond to the Reviews You Get
This is one area where many businesses fail. Consistent interaction with customers is one of the linchpins of the social media age, but businesses who only interface with their customers through social media or Twitter have a disadvantage when it comes to prospective customers looking for a good idea of what their actual experience will be like in the dealership. A friendly tone and warm responses to reviews will create an aura of personality for your business.
The nature of car dealerships means that you won’t be dealing with frequent repeat business unless your customers are affluent or dabble in collection – for that reason, responses to positive reviews will serve the purpose of establishing the tone of your business’ interactions with the public. Positive public perception can make the difference between a dealership discussed with scorn or appreciation.
Spinning Negative Reviews Into Positives
That doesn’t mean you should only be thanking customers for their positive reviews – one of the key tactics of spinning negative reviews is responding with a heart-felt apology and genuine interest in fixing any problems they might have had.
For example; let’s say that you have a customer who reports that they took their car in for a standard check-up and had fuses replaced. A few weeks later, one of the fuses burns out and they leave a review criticizing the quality of your parts. A sincere apology and an offer to do another check-up on the car free of charge will create public perception that such incidents are rare and that you’re willing to go the extra mile in customer satisfaction.
Focus on Review Sites That Matter
That said, you don’t have to stress over every little review you can ferret out across the internet – 87% of vehicle customers
say that they’ve used online review sites to help them pick a dealership, and most of them use one of several ‘main’ review sites rather than dipping into the obscure.
The Usual Suspects
Yelp is one of the most critical. Yelp’s reputation as a trustworthy and far-reaching review site makes it one of the first places that customers will check for genuine reviews – and the demographics
don’t hurt either. More than 60% of Yelp users have some college education, while nearly 40% have a yearly income over 100k. That makes these reviews critical for drawing in users who have the expendable income to make big purchases.
Facebook is another ideal place to control your brand’s image. It’s actually become strange in this social-media age to run into people who don’t have accounts on Facebook and the ease-of-use involved in writing a short status about your experience at a dealership makes Facebook reviews among the most frequent and numerous. This is one of the best places to foster relationships between yourself and the customer with responses.
Third-party review sites aren’t quite as important as any of these former sites, but there are a lot of them. Cars.com, KBB.com and Edmunds.com are only a few of the many review websites that can have an effect on your public perception. The good news here is that customers are less likely to place extreme importance on low ratings at only one of these many websites – the bad news, however, is that neglecting them completely can result in poor reviews across several, which can be a real blow to your dealership’s image.
Get Video “Customercials” at time of Purchase
Most of these tips have been based towards chasing behind customers, responding to their reviews and fostering relationships, but video testimonials allow you to control the message and immediately convert a positive experience into free marketing. Videos are easy to watch, create strong emotional connections in viewers and reduce skepticism over manufactured reviews.
Having a testimonial ‘station’ in your dealership can make these interactions fast and easy – a tripod pointed at a pleasing backdrop and an open space where customers can stand and give their input before driving off happy in their new car.
At the same time, these reviews need to be genuine and they need to be shot with equipment that makes your dealership look professional. You don’t need to make room in the budget for a professional movie camera, but even something as simple as a tripod for stability and a HD video camera will give your car buyer testimonials a polished air. These ‘customercials’ should only be sought out from customers who are truly satisfied – a single testimonial that appears staged or exaggerated can undermine your attempts.
You could be forgiven for thinking that review websites are the domain of cheap products that ship directly to the customer’s front door, but that just isn’t the case anymore – if you want your modern dealership to excel and prosper in the social media age, these tips will make all the difference.