Customer reviews are a gold mine of information. Last week I discussed how to get started monitoring and learning from reviews. Now, let’s focus on the critical importance of responding to customer reviews – both the complaints and the praises.
As discussed in the recently published DealerRater Guide to Online Reviews, online reviews are the new word of mouth. About eight out of 10 shoppers use online reviews and car dealership reviews. Reviews shape customers’ perceptions of your dealership’s brand – both online and offline. In addition, online reviews are also an opportunity for potential customers to hear back from you directly. When you respond to reviews with diplomacy and professionalism, you ensure that your voice is heard alongside customer perceptions. Consider your response to reviews to be an extension of your own brand.
It’s not always easy to respond to negative reviews. Let’s face it: who likes to spend part of their day listening to someone complain about their dealership? But responding tactfully to criticism tells potential customers that you care about their opinions and are committed to excellent customer service. On the other hand, failure to respond to a complaint plants a seed of doubt in the customer’s mind: how helpful will this dealership be if I encounter a problem with my vehicle?
Respond to negative reviews but make sure you follow some best practices. For instance, although you want to provide a timely reply, don’t provide a knee-jerk, emotional response to a negative review, even if the customer’s comment upsets you. Demonstrate empathy and resolve. Let the customer know you are sorry they had a bad experience and indicate that you are taking follow up action. If necessary, for issues that require more complex, time-consuming follow-up, offer to contact the customer privately rather than attempt to resolve the issue through a lengthy, public back-and-forth, which could turn off other customers by sounding defensive.
In addition, make sure you respond to positive reviews. If someone gives you a high-five online, by all means thank the customer for taking time to give you positive feedback. By not replying to positive reviews, you run the risk of looking ungrateful and unresponsive. And besides, who doesn’t want to spend a few minutes out of their day interacting with a happy customer?
You don’t need to respond with a lengthy discourse – a simple thank you will do, but personalize it so it doesn’t feel ‘cookie-cutter.’
The DealerRater Guide to Online Reviews provides more insight into how dealers can win by taking ownership of reviews. Download your free copy today, and then contact us to get deeper insight from our team of experts.
 Review Usefulness and Recency, Cars.com, November 2016