Our culture expects buying experiences to be tailored to individual needs and seamless. If they aren’t, or if they go beyond our expectations, customers are apt to tell others.

Google and Facebook make reviewing a business easy and, with the prevalence of social media, every individual is now entitled to share his or her voice with the masses.

Scary? For sure. In a customer service survey, 95 percent of respondents who had a bad experience shared it with someone as opposed to 87 percent who shared their good experience.

While the percentage difference doesn’t seem to be much, over half of those with bad experiences told at least five people whereas only one-third of those with good experiences told at least five others.

Bottom line: People who had a bad experience were more likely to share and, when they did, share with more people.

Ask for Reviews, not Ratings

Five stars on Google is great, but people want stories to back up the rating. Ten high ratings over the course of a month is downright suspicious unless there is something to back it up.

Chris Sutton, Vice President of U.S. Automotive Retail Practice at J.D. Power, states, “[W]hat customers really want to look at are the verbatim comments in a review—where customers like them are talking about the experiences they had.”

It’s also important to ask for reviews. Those most likely to write reviews are the ones who had a tremendous experience or a terrible one. Getting those whose experiences were good, but nothing special, are critical too because they legitimize the reviews.

Respond to Reviews

Claim your business on Google so you can write comments back to those who review your dealership. The act of communication is vital. It allows the dealership to thank those who left positive feedback and show appreciation, while also addressing the negative feedback and showing genuine concern about the customer experience.

In our social media-driven world, customers who felt wronged are more likely to voice their opinion online as opposed to face-to-face. Sometimes people want to show their outrage to as many people as they can, while others use it as an outlet as opposed to having an awkward confrontation by speaking directly to management.

Either way, this reality can sting a dealership and occasionally cause a backlash as some managers and owners may not take kindly to a public lashing.

Avoid the negative remarks and ask for the opportunity to make it right. If you can identify the customers, contact them and inquire about their experience. If not, give your phone number in the comments section and insist that they contact you so you can remedy the problem.

“What we’ve found is that if a dealer has more than five bad reviews, the consumer is automatically going to try another dealer,” Andrea Riley, Chief Marketing and Public Relations Officer for Ally, mentions. “Dealers need to make sure that if there is a bad review, they’re correcting the situation.”

When responding to online reviews, address each one individually. Having a robotic response like “Thank you for your feedback” may give the perception that you don’t really care. Try something more specific like “Thanks for the review. We love getting positive feedback like yours, and we’re glad we had you in and out of the service bay in under an hour.”

There are platforms available that encourage feedback and guide the customer toward review sites. This allows dealerships to ask for reviews after service and sales; the closer the customer is to the point of sale or service, the likelier they are to act on it.

Paula Tompkins

Paula Tompkins

CEO and Founder at ChannelNet
Paula Tompkins

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