Learning to Love Complaints: Turning Feedback Into Innovation

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As a business, it’s inevitable: every company has had some feedback from a customer who would like to see a change or who was frustrated with a product or experience. Where many businesses go wrong is by viewing complaints or negative feedback as blemishes and trying to sweep them under the rug. Complaints can actually be opportunities, especially with the transparency of social media and online review searches. Turning complaints into a tool to better the customer experience and show other consumers how proactive, responsive, and willing your dealership is to make sure everyone is happy with their own experiences will make you the go-to destination for car shoppers.

Much of a dealership’s responsibility to consumers in a large automotive industry is to make sure the customer experience is outstanding. Using and tracking feedback to ensure every customer is addressed and you’ve done everything possible in a negative-feedback situation drives your customer experience to a whole new level.

Openly addressing and going out of your way to fix a complaint or bad review online shows current consumers (who are deciding where to make their next purchase by looking up reviews) that your dealership will provide a positive customer experience in any situation. To make sure customers who’ve made a complaint or had a less‑than‑satisfactory experience can feel at ease continuing business with your dealership, here are a few tips to help you love complaints and turn feedback into innovation:

Ask for feedback. Many times, customers have small suggestions or scenarios they may like to see handled differently, which is often positive feedback for you. Offering a place for customers to give feedback online, through email or phone, and on your showroom floor is an innovative and constructive way to see what the majority of consumers are expecting in a customer experience. This also gives your dealership the opportunity to meet those expectations for others in the future before they result in a possible complaint.

Seek out reviews. With the right tools, your dealership is able to keep up on its reviews, make sure to address them, and maintain a shining reputation. Part of an innovative and smart marketing plan is to ensure you read and respond to consumer reviews.  In doing so, you’ll show customers you care, and online shoppers will see your immediate reaction to any complaint is to address it head-on and fix it. Consumers are logical and know that any business is bound to have less-than-ideal feedback here and there; if they also see you’re addressing that feedback and openly responding, it will go a long way toward their decision‑making process to shop on your lot.

Respond to complaints on social media. More and more consumers are airing out their grievances by posting on a business’s Facebook timeline or using their handle on Twitter to tweet their complaints. The large majority of consumers are on social media and get much of their information from social sites and users they follow or interact with. Ignoring a customer’s comments or complaints often gives other consumers the idea you’re not listening or don’t want to respond. The best and most innovative way to handle these situations on social media is to address the user, ask how you can fix the problem or make their experience better in the future, and in the end, offer a resolution other consumers can see. Responding via social media—because it is such a public platform—allows car shoppers to see your dealership is available, responsive, and follows through with customer service openly online, as well.

Highlight how you address an unhappy customer. If you have a public review or complaint that was addressed and ended well for a customer, highlight it for other consumers to see. Consumers understand no business is perfect 100% of the time, but how you address those imperfect moments makes a huge difference. Showing that a customer had a suggestion or complaint, and your dealership went above and beyond to correct it, lets consumers see the human side of your business etiquette and makes them feel at ease moving forward on a big purchase with you.

Stay transparent. It’s no secret every dealership has had at least one customer who provided negative feedback, and allowing those interactions and eventual resolutions to stay public on your social sites can actually help your dealership in the end. For many businesses, the first reaction may often be to want to delete a complaint, but this often makes consumers and customers feel like a business isn’t being transparent, honest, or open with them. Unless a complaint is offensive or hostile, it’s best to leave it up and solve the problem for current customers and car consumers to see, publicly.

Every business, company, and dealership has had to deal with an unsatisfied customer or a complaint at some point. The good news is that it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Learning to embrace the feedback and respond appropriately with solutions that satisfy your customers will actually help your retention rate and let consumers who are making their car‑shopping decisions see your ability to address and fix less‑than‑perfect situations. It’s important to turn the tables and use feedback to boost your dealership’s reputation.

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