Why do we give so much oxygen to online trolls? You know the people I'm writing about. They post flagrant, hateful things about perceived bad customer service that occurred at your place of business, and you feel powerless to stop them. Let's put a stop to that right now.
The inspiration for this article came to me as I was listening to a successful general manager discuss how he turned his service department into a 'Certified Pre-Owned Factory' to grow inventory, sell more cars, and boost the gross.
Here's how it works: Someone drives into the service bay to get new brakes on their three year old car. They are greeted by someone who offers them a cup of coffee in the waiting area and mentions that instead of spending money on a set of new brakes, they can lease a new model of their car for 37 dollars less per month than they are paying currently. Presto!
If the owner agrees, the dealer gains a certified pre-owned vehicle to sell and turns around another sale with the new lease. If the customer declines, however, then the service agent simply thanks them for listening and offers a 10 dollar coupon that can be used at their next service appointment.
So…why aren't we using this strategy to gain more social media reviews on sites like Google Places and DealerRater.com?
Let's discuss a can't miss strategy for empowering our raving fans to spread the word about our fixed operations side of the business, and how it both quiets the online trolls and helps sell new and used cars in the process.
First, respond to every single negative reviewer who writes about your business. When you do this, two things happen. First, by being professional and following Google's recommended guidelines, you let patrons know just how serious you take customer service. It's a confidence factor that assures other readers you listen to the opinions of people who do business with you.
Secondly, responding to online trolls scares them back into their digital caves. Most people hate any sort of confrontation and if they notice you are actively responding to everyone who leaves a review, the pessimists are far less likely to comment.
So, assuming you're a dealer who has 30 reviews and a paltry one star rating, it's time to get to work!
We've seen dealers with one star reviews gain over 200 positive comments and fantastic ratings by encouraging their active fan base to advocate for them. You can accomplish this by offering a simple card to every single customer who enters the service department.
The talk track goes something like this: "Hi Bill, thanks for coming in today, we appreciate your business. If you would take a moment to review the job we did today by reviewing the store online, it would help us know how we're doing and serve you better." Notice the example card on this page—it has a link to your website, a specific page where you link directly to Google Places, DealerRater, and other sites like Yelp that you need to gain reviews on. The final line on the card should include a tangible offer, something like a percentage or dollar amount off the next appointment, to incentivize the customer to write a glowing review.
Finally, bring a Flip camera or iPhone into the service department and capture video testimonials of people who love the job you do. This doesn't have to be fancy, just a quick two-minute video captured on a handheld camera is great, because it's authentic. Next upload the video to your website and YouTube, then share them on social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
Now you're ready to take on negative comments while gaining hundreds of positive 'votes' from your raving fans.
Joe Mescher is a digital marketing director at Dealer.com. Joe speaks with dealers from all over the country about developing action plans for dominating Google Page One and setting up progressive social media profiles. Follow Joe on Twitter: @joemescher.
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