Consumers are going on the Internet and browsing reviews of your dealership in ever increasing numbers in order to make a decision on whether or not they want to do business with you. Those review sites can make a huge impact on if you make or lose the sale. In the past, bad experiences were typically only shared amongst customer’s family and friends. But, fast forward a few years and online reviews are now the equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising on steroids.
A single bad experience – and an irate customer – can lead to some serious damage control on all of your online review profiles. This bad review, even if accompanied by many other positive ones, could make a prospective customer think twice about doing business with you. As time goes on, these reviews will become even more impactful as an increasing number of third party sites are now adopting reviews into your listings. Sometimes, these reviews are based on a partnership with an existing review site, or are simply scraped from others. Either way, online reviews can and will affect your image at every touchpoint along a customer’s car buying journey. If they see bad reviews too often, it could mean that they go to your competitor.
With the increasing focus on reviews in the car buying process, it is important for dealers to focus on obtaining a good number of reviews.
“There is a simple strategy that can produce a good number of reviews while also minimizing the possibility that you accidentally motivate an unhappy customer to leave a bad review.”
Many reputation management experts will tell you that it’s a best practice to ask all of your customers for reviews. And I wouldn’t disagree. The fear that many dealers have with this practice, however, is that they could end up sending a review solicitation email to a customer who, unbeknownst to them, had a bad experience and is unhappy. Now you’ve simply lead the horse to the watering hole. That customer may not have even considered leaving you a review. But, your solicitation opened up a means for them to vent their frustrations, or share their poor experience with the world. This possibility has been known to make dealers gun-shy in pushing that send button on the email.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to be worried. There is a simple strategy that can produce a good number of reviews while also minimizing the possibility that you accidentally motivate an unhappy customer to leave a bad review.
To generate as many reviews as possible, you should ask every customer – both sales and service. I would suggest this be done both in person as well as a follow up email the day after the sale or service visit. This email can be set up to automatically fire in almost every CRM. If needed, I am sure your CRM vendor help you create it. This is a very simple email, you probably get similar ones from retailers you do business with. The email should simply ask the customer to take a few moments to fill out a quick survey and leave feedback.
To get this strategy started, you will need to create three landing pages. Wait — don’t go away. These are very simple and can be easily made in-house, or through your web provider, in less than 10 minutes. Here are the details:
- The first landing page is very simple. It should have your branding and, preferably, match the look and feel of your website. On this page ask the customer one simple question: “Did we provide a great customer experience for you when you visited yesterday?” Below that question, place two buttons – a green one that says “Yes” and a red one that says “No.”
- The second landing page is the one the customer is taken to if they hit the “Yes” button. On this page, thank the customer for coming in, reinforce that you value them and their business and ask them to leave you a review. Include links to all of your online review properties. Feel free to highlight any that you’d particularly like them to visit and leave a review on. Some consumers may have sites they frequent so you’ll find that Yelp users will gravitate towards Yelp, Google towards Google, etc.
- The third landing page is where you take customers who click the “No” button. On this page apologize to the customer, explain that your dealership always strives to provide excellent customer service and ask the customer to leave feedback for you. Include a comments field for them to do that and have it set up to automatically e-mail the comments to managers.
This strategy accomplishes many things. First, it solicits and/or reminds every customer to leave you a review. Just by numbers, the more people you ask for a review, the more reviews you will get. Second, it leads any customer that indicates they had a great experience to your review sites, while deterring unhappy customers from visiting them. Of course, the unhappy customers could still go on their own accord. But, you’ll know that, if they do, you didn’t lead them there.
Third, this strategy allows for your reputation management efforts to be dynamic. Need more positive Google reviews? Simply change the order of the links on your landing page. Have too many Yelp reviews? Remove the link. You get where I’m headed. This will allow you to direct customers where you wish, bolstering sites that need more reviews or helping to bury a negative review that may have been left for you.
And last but not least, it gives those customers with poor experiences a place to vent and give you feedback that you control. The customer is then less likely to leave you a bad review. But, perhaps even more importantly, you now have the data to fix the problem. There is a good chance that you’ll be able to review their comments and take action to remedy the upset prior to the customer receiving any OEM surveys. Rather than discovering that a problem existed while reading your manufacturer survey results and possibly losing an award or incentive, you’ll be ahead of the game.
This simple strategy is one that any dealership can implement. There is no monthly fee since you’re simply creating landing pages. No contracts to sign or vendors to pay. Your dealership can use these landing pages for years to come (or until we no longer use e-mail or have Internet). And, you can enjoy asking all of your customers for reviews and sit back and watch your review count rise with the knowledge that the only horses you led to the watering hole were the ones that you wanted to drink.
Author: Paul Moran
Paul Moran is President and CEO of Vboost, Inc., the first proactive process to create positive viral marketing in the retail automotive space. He has over 28 years of experience in creating digital marketing programs and introducing dealers to effective technologies. His expertise covers all aspects of traditional, digital and social marketing.