Essential Things to Know About Handling Customer Reviews

by Jay Harper

It's no secret that online reviews hold more clout with potential customers than ever before. Digital word of mouth is having an outsized impact on your dealership, whether you like it or not. But, it is absolutely possible to use online reviews to your advantage.

Dealing with customer reviews of your dealership boils down to two essentials: engaging with those customers in a positive, constructive manner and leveraging positive reviews to boost your messaging in other areas.

Master these two concepts, and handling customer reviews will be a piece of cake for your operation.

Engaging with Customer Feedback

The sad truth is people who have a negative experience at your dealership are more incentivized to leave a review than people who have a good experience. It's just human nature to gloss over positive events as "the way things were supposed to go," while negative events are more jarring and thus provoke a more conscious response.

In short, it's not a question of if, but when, your dealership will have to deal with negative customer feedback. The natural response, of course, is to get defensive or leave your own negative review of the customer's opinion. You may see this as protecting your dealership's reputation by questioning the customer's credibility.

I can't stress enough that this is 100 percent the wrong approach, for several reasons:

  • It guarantees you've now lost that customer forever. 
  • It's unprofessional and will make you look as such to anyone reading the back-and-forth. 
  • It positions you as someone who can't take criticism (constructive or otherwise) and is therefore unlikely to ever make improvements for the customer's sake.

Instead, make these points your guide in every interaction with customer feedback:

  • Show empathy for the situation at hand.
  • Limit the amount of negativity visible to other readers (and potential future customers) by shifting the conversation offline, whether by phone, email, or face-to-face.
  • Ask the customer to revise their review once you've addressed the issue to the best of your ability.


There are times, of course, when you will have to (politely) stick up for yourself or your business. Unfortunately, some people are just looking to spread a little negativity for reasons that ultimately have nothing to do with your dealership.

In those cases, take a firm but measured and conciliatory tone. If you know you're being attacked unfairly, be calm and professional in that interaction, and readers will, more often than not, come to your defense or at least come away with a positive impression of you.

Repurpose Positive Reviews

What is quality content? Generally speaking, it's any creative messaging that achieves two goals: providing specific value to your customers and moving them to take a desired action.

There are convenient and cost-effective alternatives to constantly churning out original marketing content, however. One excellent option? Positive customer reviews.

Why?

  • 5-star reviews carry significant weight as people see their fellow consumers lending useful insight and a strong recommendation. They're attention grabbers.
  • Positive reviews serve as a reminder to your existing customers of the value you strive to deliver them day in and day out. Social media followers who've had a positive experience with you may be pushed to share such content, further expanding your reach.
  • Google Search favors sites that can earn good reviews consistently over a certain period of time, meaning positive reviews can help boost your SEO campaigns, as well.

With all these benefits available, it's imperative that you're proactive in gathering positive reviews to leverage and promoting your dealership on other sites your customers frequent (making sure your positive feedback gets pulled by search engines and helping to boost your placement in search results).

Mastering feedback engagement and repurposing positive reviews might not be easy. Still, if you can do it, your dealership will reap all the benefits of customer reviews while minimizing the downsides. That's a winning strategy you can put in place right now.



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