As an automotive dealer, your reputation is your lifeline. And in the digital age, your reputation is displayed in black and white (and yellow stars) for everyone who searches for you or even generally searches for your services. Too few reviews, too old reviews, and fewer than four stars all disqualify you from ranking with your most powerful business partner – Google. So when you make a sale, your work is not yet done. Let’s talk about your next move: securing the review.
First, you should ask every customer for a review. Research shows that customers are more inclined to write negative reviews than positive ones, so when it comes to attempting to drown out those less becoming ones, prompting every customer who makes a sale with your dealership is your best bet. Even with prompting, not every customer will leave a review, so if you try to game the system by prompting only customers you’re positive had a great experience, you’ll waste time rating customers and miss out on reviews in the process.
After each sale, the salesperson should follow up with the customer to ask for a review within two to three days of making the sale. This timing is important. Your client has just completed a long, arduous car-buying process – one that likely didn’t start at your dealership but has ended with a sale and hopefully a happy customer. Don’t rush them to tout your dealership before they’ve at least made the celebratory drive home. However, don’t wait until the new-car smell wears off, either. You want to ensure your customer is leaving a review of their experience purchasing from your dealership – not reviewing the car itself.
The client’s experience with every interaction with your dealership – including when writing a review – influences the review they might give you. Provide an easy and convenient review process. Text or email clients with a direct link to review on the most important sites, like Google and Facebook. If you’re capturing a video review before they leave the dealership, try to record it while the vehicle is being detailed; make it part of the experience so it’s not an added burden.
Once you’ve captured the review, your work still is not complete. A past customer is a potential customer, and responding to reviews not only continues your relationship with that customer, but responding with in a timely and professional way will have benefits that reach far beyond that customer alone. Prospective customers will react favorably to seeing zyour responses to reviews – demonstrating you care for your customers and giving them a view into what they can expect from your dealership. Google also favors businesses that respond to reviews. Responses also give you the opportunity to optimize your reviews – inputting keywords and even brand values.
Remember to respond to every review. Responding only to negative reviews has the unintended consequence of floating those negative reviews to the top of your page – as reviews with responses are often displayed first.
Positive reviews drive customer acquisition, while negative reviews damage opportunity. The pendulum of the car-buying landscape is swinging, with U.S. consumers hunkering down on spending. Automotive dealers need to manage their reputations to attract remaining car buyers, who are looking for a trusted source to guide their next vehicle purchase.
Murray is CEO of Widewail, a customer review and reputation-management solutions provider.
Originally posted on Auto Dealer Today