Car Dealers are taking a particularly aggressive stance against anonymous reviews found on such sites as Yelp or Ripoff Report by actively trying to connect the data dots to identify the author.
Once the dealer has identifying information in hand it might thank the poster for the good review – perhaps with a gift basket. In the case of a negative review, the dealer or manager might send an email asking for either a reconsideration or a chance to readdress what was wrong with the person’s stay, according to the AutomotiveDigitalMarketing.com editor in chief, Ralph Paglia.
Most ominously, ADM Professional Community members report that a negative review could earn a poster a black mark in the car dealer’s DMS database. Such tactics, though – on both extremes – could backfire against the industry. Efforts by the dealer to pressure a guest to remove a negative review – or reward a guest for a positive one – would be seen as fraudulent by both Yelp and DealerRater says Chip Grueter, owner of DealerRater (via the ADM Community).
That said, Car Dealers should try to answer negative reviews even if they don’t know who posted them, Jim Jensen, a former general manager turned consultant and the author of the dealer-based "Where’s The Comparison Example" Mystery series, now an ADP Dealer Services Director of Consulting, states:
"Some would say that online reviews deserve even more time than OEM surveys, as the feedback is just as – if not more – valuable, and the impact is public."
- Respond to any feedback that is damaging to your dealership’s reputation, even if simply to acknowledge the issue and apologize.
- Respond to positive reviews occasionally to show you’re listening, but don’t feel obliged to reply to each one.
- Responses should come from the highest level – but not necessarily from the owners themselves. “As a rule I discourage dealership owners from responding. They have too much at stake and aren’t always as diplomatic as managers.”
- Respond as soon as possible – the longer a complaint is left to fester, the more business it will drive away. Just make sure you have all the facts and the response is thorough.
Don’t Be Afraid
Finally, don’t fear negative reviews, a Forrester Research report advises. Forrester recentlyevaluated 4,000 reviews in the Automotive Sales and Vehicle Repair and Service categories on various consumer rating sites and found that more than 80% of the reviews were positive – and the negative reviews were generally considered helpful to consumers. While the data was derived from retail Web sites, Forrester says these findings are applicable to any vertical site from travel to auto, financial services, or healthcare.
Negative reviews are also helpful to the companies themselves, according to Ralph Paglia, Director of Digital Marketing for ADP Dealer Services (and ADM Professional Community). While many car dealers might fear negative reviews, it is this type of specific feedback that has oftentimes uncovered valuable business opportunities with many of our clients.
"It was through the power of customer reviews that Ford of Kirkland was able to uncover a huge unmet need in the Seattle area for Ford F-350 trucks, he said: equipped with multi-purpose shelving and dual rear wheels. "Ford of Kirkland developed what ultimately became their most successful promotion campaign to date – the "Mount Ranier" Special Edition Ford F-250 Super Duty line of trucks."