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How franchised dealers can give their online critics a five-star response

By Richard Yarrow

Every dealership or staff member likes praise for a job well done, and the internet means it’s easy for happy customers to deliver it. Reviews such as: ‘Excellent, courteous service. Prompt, friendly and the best price’ aren’t going to do your business any harm.


♦  Respond quickly to criticism and be keen to engage with customers  
Seeing some negative comments increases consumer trust in reviews  
Avoid coaching customers or offering rewards for positive reviews  

But it’s impossible to please everyone all the time, so what effect does: ‘Lack of attention to detail. Very disappointing and time-consuming to rectify’ have when it’s published for all to see?

Online ratings and reviews are a phenomenon of the digital age, a feedback process over which the retailer has no control. Staff simply do their best and carefully monitor their profile on websites such as Motor Codes and Reevoo. But should dealers actively encourage customers to review them and how should they do it? Furthermore, what’s best practice in dealing with posted complaints?

Adam Bullion, head of B2B marketing at Trader Media Group, said the answer to the first question was yes.

“Independent endorsement can be of as much value as it is for holidays, hotels and restaurants. A recent Auto Trader survey revealed 74% of website users said they would find dealer ratings useful when buying a car.” As a result, the company will be trialling the concept online early next year.

 Every business will receive bad reviews, but they are only damaging if you don’t know how to deal with them. In fact, recent research by Reevoo has shown they can actually be beneficial. More than two-thirds of those questioned (68%) said they trusted reviews more when they saw both good and bad reports or scores and an overwhelming 95% suspected censorship or even faked reviews when they saw no criticisms at all. The fact that five times as many consumers actively sought out negative reviews than positive ones illustrates the point.

The positive and negative comments above are genuine and taken from the Reevoo listing of Simpsons Škoda, which has two dealerships in the North-West.

“Using an independent company really pushes the response rates up because people know everything, subject to moderation, will be published,” said John Williams, Simpsons’ digital media manager.

His advice was straightforward – keep the number of questions to a minimum and never have sales staff coach people on how to fill out the survey.

“This leads to irritated customers, lower response rates and a missed opportunity to gain reviews. We’ve heard of counterproductive activities such as salespeople offering free mats for a 10/10 score or, even worse, saying they’ll lose their job if they’re given a low score.”

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