Published 05 Dec 2019
This article was originally published in the Autofile Magazine - March 2019 issue.
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Trader reviews are rapidly growing in importance as a part of any dealership’s business.
Internally, you can learn, adapt and celebrate in real time as feedback from customers is received. Externally, there will be prospective clients only wanting to see vehicles, and engage with dealerships that have been rated and reviewed by past buyers.
Think about your own decision-making, whether it be about a café, restaurant or accommodation, and how online ratings – or lack of them – influence your decisions.
For example, do you take your family to a place that has no rating and reviews, when around the corner there’s one that has hundreds of positive ratings?
They have established a place in many customers’ minds. Being rated and reviewed is one thing, but making the effort to respond takes your online reviews to another all important level of credibility and client perception.
The way in which you respond to reviews can show prospective customers how much you truly value them by demonstrating how much you’ve valued past ones. Can they trust you post-sale, or do you ignore them once you’ve sold them a car?
Leaving a negative, or less-than-positive review unanswered adds fuel to the fire. It can take them from being a little smoke about your dealership to somewhat more ablaze, and something that will raise concerns when read. If this is consistent across your reviews, it doesn’t give anyone confidence in doing business with you.
That said, if you respond to negative reviews in an empathetic way – even with unreasonable buyers – you should articulate what efforts you made to make it right or improve their experiences and place context for consideration around those reviews.
What it shows prospective customers is that you care, they can see you’ve tried to make the client happy or provided some understanding of the situation around the review. A negative review replied to by the dealership with thought and client-focused effort significantly throws water on that fire so it barely smolders.
There are all sort of statistics out there, but replying well reduces negative connotation by more than 50 per cent compared to no reply. Remember, always reply, and look to calm negativity and not add fuel to the fire.
All I can say is reply to every single one. Customers have taken their time to write a review about your dealership, which helps convert more new buyers to choose your business. These are just as important as replying to negative reviews.
Whatever you do, don’t just reply with a generic “thanks” across them. Make an effort, not only because your buyer deserves it for submitting the review, but it also shows prospective customers you value clients and communicate with them post-sale.
Remember, most customers are down to choosing which two, maybe three, dealerships they visit to look at specific vehicles they have found.
Reading through reviews and seeing a dealership that has replied with gratitude to all customer reviews compared to one that has replied to none – or a dealership that doesn’t have any reviews – starts to influence people’s decision-making as to what businesses they will visit.
Another consideration is that replying to reviews also increases the chances of buyers taking their time to leave reviews about their experiences.
Especially when making decisions, they see you replied to past customers and were thankful, so when they reply you have given them proof you care and are thankful for their efforts in completing reviews. If you never reply to any, you aren’t showing you care to receive their reviews either.
Another component in handling reviews is what you do with them internally. This is what you can learn about your dealership and your people from customers.
One area I know dealers receive the most constructive feedback about is customer parking, but most do nothing about it.
I would happily argue stocking five less cars and giving people easy access to parking will only have a positive effect on the business, its client experience and financial performance. Poor or no available customer parking is a great way to annoy prospective buyers before they have even got out of their cars, and generate frustration, negativity and reasons why not to buy from you.
Whichever way you cut it, reviews are hugely important to your business today and will be more so in the future. Handling them with external visibility, or based on what you can learn internally, will lead to a better overall experience at your dealership – and ensure you leverage customer experience online – to have a presence for consideration on a buyer’s online research journey.
A comprehensive customer rating and survey tool being used by a growing number of dealerships is BuyerScore. Now is the time to take control of reviews and make one thing for certain – that they are from your buyers, and you can leverage the results online and offline. Visit BuyerScore to learn more.
The Motorcentral blog is intended for educational purposes only. All writers opinions are their own and nothing published on this blog should be interpreted as a recommendation or advice in any way. Motorcentral is also not responsible for and does not verify accuracy of any of the information contained within this blog.
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