Customer reviews can make or break a business, and car dealerships are no exception. One study found that 90% of auto purchasers conduct research online, and over 90% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Ignoring the impact reviews have on your dealership can wreak havoc on your bottom line, so it’s important to be proactive with strategies for both requesting and responding to customer reviews. In this post, we’ll discuss why customer reviews are important and offer a few tips
There are several key reasons why customer reviews are vital for your business:
- A good sales pitch is not enough. Reputation is important. Your prospective customers already know you want to sell them a car, but they want to hear from others who have first hand experience with your business before they decide to buy from you. Products and businesses with reviews posted online have a much better chance of conversion: according to a Cobalt Study, even a small improvement in review scores can equal a big boost in sales.
- Let your customers do your marketing for you. Asking your satisfied customers to leave a review can be a valuable marketing tool. Word of mouth marketing is important for building credibility and referrals, and can gradually lead to more business over time. Also, reviews don’t disappear. A positive online review can continue helping your business for years to come.
- Reviews improve your search ranking. Reviews affect where your business appears in online search results. Google web crawlers compile reviews from several sites when providing results, and businesses with a higher number of reviews or a higher ranking on those reviews will appear higher up on the results page than a business with no reviews or poor reviews.
- Reviews provide valuable feedback. Dealers have precious few chances to make an impression, so it’s important to use all of them to your fullest advantage. Even negative reviews provide valuable information on processes that may need improvement. Try to think of negative reviews as opportunities rather than complaints.
- Reviews drive engagement. Any online review for your business, even a negative one, is an opportunity to start a conversation and engage with your customers. When a customer gets a response to an online review from the business, it shows the business cares about their customers and wants to improve their experience.
There is no magic formula for getting customers to review your business, but you should make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Sometimes that may be as simple as requesting they write a good review on Yelp or Google, but other times you may need to be more creative. Consider setting up a text-based review app that can send a link directly to your customers requesting a review before they leave the showroom. Another option is to create a QR code that links directly to a review site placed on table tents or prominent spots in your showroom. You might also include a request for a review in a follow-up email or phone call after closing the deal, or even send handwritten postcards politely requesting a review.
When you request a review, make it specific. Choose which platform you’d like them to use, e.g. Facebook Business page, Google Business Profile, or Yelp, and make it as simple as possible. Make sure to avoid offering gifts or incentives for positive reviews, as it can damage your credibility, and after all, what you’re looking for is honest feedback.
Responding to online reviews is as important as requesting them, and responding to negative reviews is twice as important as responding to positive ones, as negative reviews may be the only way you learn about a problem with your business. Respond to every negative review your business receives. Keep your responses positive and upbeat, thank the customer for their review, apologize for the negative experience, and invite the customer to continue the conversation offline. Avoid defending yourself or your processes and don’t talk about what the customer may have done to contribute to the bad experience. Reassure them that you are aware of the problem and doing everything possible to correct it.
By following these best practices, you can use customer reviews to your advantage and let your reputation do the talking. If you’d like to learn more about how to manage your online reputation, consider speaking to one of the Social Media Specialists at The Automotive Advertising Agency. Give us a call today at 512.610.7300 or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.