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Your guide to good review management

By Jim Jabaay

Picture a typical Monday morning and you are on the showroom floor. One of your teammates just told you about a Google review that was left about your dealership. Instantly, your mind panics about what to do and the best way to respond if it’s negative or positive, and the quickest way to respond as soon as possible. Do you have a review response plan ready?

Ninety-two percent of consumers read reviews and incorporate them into their buying decision and expect to see a response from the business on ALL reviews.

Below is a quick guide on how to handle reviews, both positive and negative for your dealership.

Get personal — Adding the human touch by naming the customer by name and connecting specifics from their review helps prove it is not an auto-generated message, turning your dealership to a real person, not just a business name.

Be polite and professional — It is important that while you get personal, you keep any emotion out of the tone of the response that could be misinterpreted. Also, still keep to a professional and businesslike structure, avoid slang or industry specific acronyms that some customers may not understand.

Respond in a timely manner — A prompt response shows that you care about your customers and show attentiveness to your business. A review is looked on more favorably when it shows the dealership responded within less than 24 hours rather than waiting three days.

Action plan to respond to positive reviews:

Give your positive reviews the same care as your negative ones. Many dealerships forget about this type of review. However, responding to positive reviews shows that you care about your customer and glad they were happy with their experience. Follow these steps below for a successful positive review response that will also provide keyword help and additional marketing.

  1. Give thanks to the reviewer — According to Yelp, only 1 percent of users are actively creating content, so for someone to go out of their way with their personal time to give you a positive review is a big deal!
  2. Mention your dealership's name – You want positive reviews to be what people see, especially when they do a Google search for your dealership. Adding some keywords about your business and business name can also improve search ranking.
  3. Share the review on Facebook – This is a free marketing testimonial for your dealership! If possible, tag the reviewer in your share to show your appreciation for their review and taking the time to make the review.

As a bonus, if a specific employee is named in the review, recognize that staff member and acknowledge how their efforts helped the customer. This will help to improve staff moral and continue to connect the customer to a more personal relationship inside your business. As the saying goes, people do business with people.

Action plan to respond to negative reviews:

These are the ones that can cause frustration with us in our business. We work hard to go above and beyond for our customers, yet sometimes the efforts are not received that way. They have the tools to go online and say whatever they want about their experience with our business. Remember, it is important to keep the emotion out of the response! Follow these steps below for a negative review response.

  1. Apologize and keep it simple — Even if their comments have no merit, they feel they had a bad experience. Apologize for this and tell them you are sorry that you missed the mark.
  2. Insert a little marketing help — Explain that this is not typical for your dealership and we are typically known for our exceptional customer service or whatever issues the customer has written about. However, leave your dealership name out of the response as you do not want the negative review gaining keyword traffic.
  3. Move it offline — Give them a name (owner/GM) and a number/email address that they can discuss their issues further. You want to give the customer the opportunity to talk and also learn how you can improve your customer experience. You also have a chance to correct the issue and possibly have the customer change their negative review to a positive one.

In closing, reviews are a very important part of your buyer’s journey. It is good to have a review response plan ready. Seventy percent of a customer’s purchase decisions are made with online research before they step into the dealership. Your response plan for your reviews can help you gain potential customers or turn them away before they step across your showroom floor.

Jim Jabaay is the vice president of Sales and Marketing for LotVantage, a leader in digital marketing for automotive, powersports, marine and RV dealerships.  Jim has grown up in the automotive industry with the family dealership in the suburbs of Chicago. Jim started at Manheim in sales and continued to grow his career running sales teams throughout Texas for nine years.  Following Manheim, Jim spent two years at Dealertrack expanding his career in the software side of the business.  LotVantage utilizes data to help dealerships understand which inventory to post and when to post it for a local, national and social presence.  Jim’s number one goal is helping dealers succeed in an ever growing and changing dealership world.

Website: www.LotVantage.com

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