Rev Up Your Reviews: Everyone’s a Critic

Column wrote by David Sharma is the founder of Dealer InLine, a company that provides full service online development and management for automotive dealerships by creating and implementing innovative online approaches that align with dealerships brand, goals and targeted sales strategies. The company delivers the most current and effective methods to enhance all avenues in which a dealer engages consumers online and in-store.

Get your reviews working for you!

So you’ve received an online review, now what? I get many questions about developing the best mechanisms to respond to reviews.
Let’s recap. At this point you’ve reviewed your competition and their standings. You’ve outlined monthly review targets and timelines. Your team has mapped the processes, created tools and knows how to use them. You’re updating the team on when reviews are received and acknowledging them via email.
But how do you respond to a review? Should you be direct and start a conversation, or just be casual and offer thanks?
And what about the dreaded negative review, when panic mode sets in? Who’s responsible and how do they proceed?
Here are a few best practices that have helped clients successfully respond to all types of reviews, whether it’s shared on Facebook or even YouTube. On these portals, any review with comments can go viral. Both the business and the customer can boost a post for more exposure, either enhancing or tarnishing your online reputation.
The negative review
Let’s start with the more difficult “scud,” or negative review. Who receives these notifications? To whom and how should it be forwarded? Who will pull/source the customer’s profile?
Since everyone is a “keyboard warrior,” it’s best to resolve a scud offline. Phoning the customer is key, to discuss the issue and how you can resolve it–ultimately requesting the negative review be removed. Often, a customer just wants to hear from a highly placed individual at the given business.
Sometimes, a customer may have been contacted but is not interested in removing the review. This is where many businesses make a mistake in responding. The response needs to be crafted not just for that particular customer, but for all future customers reading the review and planning to do business with your store.
Successful strategies
For example, if the customer is wrong, your first reaction may be to prove your point. But your future customer is reviewing your reaction. They want to know what would happen if they were to do business with your store and something didn’t work out for them. Are you a reasonable person who’s willing to work with the customer? Your response can be a significant differentiator to anyone who’s shopping around for a store they would feel comfortable giving their business to. Here are some successful strategies:
◉ Leave some time between their review and the response. If it’s negative, show the customer that you did your homework and are asking questions.
◉ Acknowledge their displeasure with your business. Admit that your business can make mistakes.
◉Outline the issue and state that you’re making changes to ensure that it does not happen again. You’re open minded and are always refining your processes.
◉ Thank them for bringing this to your attention. You’re open for constructive criticism.
◉ Provide direct contact with the departmental manager, including their name, number and extension. Make it easy for them to contact you. All these points apply to the current customer, but are also geared to the future customer.
Perhaps you’ve been unsuccessful in having the reviewer contact you or modify their statement. If you want to impress them, send a hand-written note with an invitation to your store to see the changes that have taken place since their review. Or you could invite them to a customer appreciation night to meet the staff. This will show that you’ve acknowledged their review and made changes. Perhaps you can meet them when they’re ready to leave, and request that they remove the negative review.
The positive review
For a positive review, always thank the customer, acknowledge the department or staff member mentioned, and promise to convey the message. These reviews can be powerful and can be used to help close future business. Here’s how:
If you are engaged with a third party review portal
◉ Ask them about API integration.
◉ Ask about coding that can be embedded into your website to promote your reviews.
◉ Ask your website provider about an active review widget to automatically pull positive reviews onto your website.
◉ Ask about best practices from other dealers with examples.
 In-house
◉ Ask your creative staff to create a one-page document including departmental reviews (Sales/Service) with a statement and branding.
◉ Take that review creative and broadcast it in-store (ie. TV screens, posters, screensavers).
◉ Train your staff on how to promote this review piece with customers and when it can be used to help move an opportunity along.
If your reputation is harvested, positioned and broadcasted correctly, it can provide you with a strong competitive advantage. It shows that previous customers have experienced your product and service in a positive way and have shared this experience with the world online. To enhance this effect, internal touchpoints either through messaging or the mouths of your staff, can help bring this to light when customers are in-store; this is where your efforts are best utilized.

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