Before the Internet people chose who to do business with based on their community and word-of-mouth. There were no review sites. Now, however, review sites are flourishing — just about every third party listing service has adopted them and there are many stand-alone services too.
Consumers increasingly conduct their research online during their car shopping journey. Along the way they read stories from other customers about their experience at your dealership. Whether they actively seek reviews or not, they see and read them. And those stories could mean the difference between the customer choosing you or your competitor.
Regardless if you’re a vendor or a dealer, this is true. Prospective customers search for information online, review social media sites and read blogs, along with any criticism (or praise) that is published. This is why it pays to be diligent in protecting and managing all stories told about you.
From a public relations standpoint, these stories can be crucial in attracting or repelling business. Every single one of them can influence a buyer. Simply having more positive than negative reviews isn’t enough. Consider the shopper that had an elderly relative taken advantage of or, perhaps, a female co-worker. Maybe she is looking for a car and reads a single review about your dealership complaining about the treatment her elderly relative or co-worker received there. That one particular point of sensitivity for that buyer could elevate the weight of her decision.
While you certainly can’t control those reviews left by customers that cannot be satisfied no matter what you do, the few that perhaps hold you “hostage by review,” what you can do is be diligent in monitoring each and every review site and proactive in responding to all reviews, both positive and negative. The simple attempt to publicly rectify or discuss a solution in an honest effort to make things right (whether you are at fault or not) can go a long way to turn the opinions of prospective customers in your favor.
People don’t expect perfection. They do expect if mistakes are made, or problems arise, that you work with them to make them satisfied. Especially when the transaction is tens of thousands of dollars. Pay attention, respond professionally and do your best to right as many wrongs as you can — and make this known by publicly responding to reviews. This can actually help mitigate lost business. It communicates to that anonymous researcher that you care about the experience your customers receive and are willing to try and make it right. And in many cases you also handle that upset customer – a win-win!
All customers want to know is that you will take care of them. By sincerely caring and showing that you appreciate the business of each and every customer — and by being willing to work to rectify any complaints and publicly announcing that online –your reputation should improve and you should have a strong voice in your own online story.
Author: Sara Callahan
Sara Callahan, Carter West Public Relations Founder & President
Sara Callahan is the Founder and President of Carter West Public Relations, one of the top agencies that specializes in retail automotive public relations.
Born in the United Kingdom, Sara Callahan re-located to the United States over twenty-five years ago and held executive positions in several marketing/communications firms before founding her own agency, Carter West Public Relations, in 1990.
Ms. Callahan’s particular strengths include community and media relations, content development, social media, campaign strategies, trade shows, special events, print and broadcast media placement.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org