One of the misconceptions about online reviews is that shoppers only write reviews when they’ve had a bad experience.  Not true.  Since launching the beta period for Dealer Reviews in March, the average review score for dealers reviewed on the site has remained steady at anywhere between 4.3 and 4.5 out of 5.  80 percent of the reviews have a rating of 4 stars or higher.

Unfortunately, negative reviews happen.  Addressed properly, however, they can present opportunities that are just as valuable as positive reviews.  In fact, a customer in New England shared that the way they dealt with their first negative review actually resulted in a sale. 

In his review, an unhappy customer related that he received an inappropriate response from a sales manager to an online vehicle inquiry, and as a result, the customer gave the dealership a rating of just 1 star.  Rather than engaging in a public debate or simply ignoring the review, the sales manager reached out to the customer, taking the conversation offline to address the customer’s concerns and apologize.  The sales manager ultimately earned a second chance and won the customer’s business.

With three out of four car shoppers consulting online reviews prior to choosing a dealership, your response to reviews have never been more important.  The following represent a few simple tips for responding to reviews – both positive and negative – that can have a big impact on your online reputation:

Have a game plan to monitor and respond to reviews.  Know where reviews about your dealership are being posted, ensure that the responsibility of monitoring and responding to those reviews is assigned to someone within your organization, and set guidelines for how they should respond.

Respond to positive feedback.  We are sometimes so focused on resolving less-than-positive feedback that we forget to acknowledge the customers who advocate on our behalf.  Responding to positive feedback shows that you are listening and are pleased they experienced the excellent service you strive to deliver.

Acknowledge negative feedback publicly, but resolve the issues privately.  Acknowledge negative feedback quickly by apologizing and indicating that you would like the opportunity to make things right.  Doing this shows the reviewer, as well as current and future customers, that you’re listening and care about the service provided at your dealership.  Don’t, however, try to resolve the issue online – you won’t win in a public debate.  Take the issue offline by inviting the customer to call you to resolve the issue, or, if you’re able to identify the customer and have their contact information, reach out proactively, as our customer in the example above did. 

For more tips on how to respond to reviews, view the replays of webinars in the Reputation Management Lab by registering here.