Published 22 Jan 2021
This article was originally published in the Autofile Magazine - July 2017 issue.
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Who's saying what about your dealership is one thing, but how you reply can play a massive role in the public (your future customers) perception of your business. Consumers are continuing to have more voice online, as they also look to other customers’ experiences with businesses they have dealt with.
You’ll find that out there in the big online world, where your prospective customers are doing their research on their next vehicle, your dealerships name is likely to be out there with positive and negative experiences next to it. These experiences can come across from past customers, customers who never purchased, and even the odd fake commentary from someone that has a bone to pick with you.
Whichever comments are out there, they all contribute to people’s perception of your business and your reputation. This is such an important area to be aware of considering studies show that a massive 80 per cent of people are influenced in a purchasing decision based on online reviews.
These reviews just aren’t present on ratings sites, you will also find many dealership names pop up in various forums and discussion threads, along with Facebook groups etc.
In many examples they start off with someone looking for advice or a recommendation e.g “I am looking to purchase a new vehicle for my family, we have just moved here from the UK, has anyone on here dealt with XYZ Motors?”
And so it begins … If you are a larger dealership that sells a considerable number of cars then you are even more likely to have more past customers chime on in with their two cents worth, some may even come in with $50 worth depends how passionate they are about sharing their experience with your dealership and the amazing service they did or didn’t receive.
When conducting a search on an Auckland dealership among some discussion forums, I found some outstanding reviews and recommendations from customers, and the odd minor negative one, but the majority were very positive. Now what was interesting is these forums spanned across a multitude of different groups. This dealership was named in a parenting forum, a new immigrant to NZ forum, a gamers forum and a fishing forum. The dealer up until this point had no idea what had been written about his business, but once he did, he was glad it was generally so positive.
A very simple way to get notified frequently once someone mentions your dealership’s name online is by using Google Alerts, or other similar online monitoring tools.
They are very quick and easy notification tools to setup that you can define the region being New Zealand, and the keywords you want to be notified on. This way once you get notified of your dealership’s name being published you can go and read what has been said and take any action that you want, by either thanking the customer, or engaging with a disgruntled customer. It will depend on the forum or group rules as to how easy it is for you to join and be able to post comments, but most are relatively straight forward. Any of those great ones you come across, you could ask the customer if you could use their experience as a testimonial for future buyers.
Remember if you are going to respond, (which is far better than not at all), other viewing customers get to see a response from you, as opposed to the review being swayed 100 per cent in favour of the original writer. That being said even if you offer up a genuine great response that respects the customer, and offer all the help you can in light of their complaint, it doesn’t always balance it out completely and have you sitting pretty in other reader’s eyes. They will review both sides and give you credit for responding, and how much credit will depend on what you write. One tip I will provide, is that generic responses that are the same - regardless of the customer’s comments - don’t gain you much credit in other reader’s eyes. Taking the extra five minutes to write something that specifically addresses the customer’s concerns is worth it.
Setting up alerts will get you notified in the future as your name is used, however if you want to look back in the past at any comments out there you will need to do some searching. You can refine the search by filtering down to “discussions”, “groups” or “forums” if it has the capability in advanced search, but if not, generally including these words at the end of your keyword search will be sufficient.
It always pays to know what your future prospective customers are learning about your business when conducting their research, so get out there and act like one yourself on your own business and see what you uncover.
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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