by Meg Wilcox
Managing Your Automotive Dealership’s Online Reputation During COVID-19
Protecting your brand is essential for any business. But in the time of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to pay extra attention to what your customers are saying about you through reputation management. But what is reputation management exactly? To put it simply, it’s monitoring and managing what people are saying about your brand online – both good and bad. Although the concept has always been around, the dawn of the Internet and of social media has changed how people voice their opinions about experiences and how businesses can respond to these customers to continue to build trust and credibility for their brand.
But how does one respond to the good, the bad and the ugly? Is there a time when a review shouldn’t be responded to? And with so many platforms, how is one supposed to know and keep track of everything people are saying about their business?
Let’s start with the good.
Good reviews feel great. They lift your spirits, are good for employee morale and can help you gain more new customers, while retaining current ones. When it comes to responding to a good review, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Thank the customer. People who take the time to leave you a positive review are your biggest cheerleaders. If these customers are taking the time to leave positive feedback, take the time to genuinely thank them.
- Keep it simple. There’s no need for a lengthy response here. Short and sweet is the way to go every time.
- End with a call to action. “Come back and see us soon.”, “Don’t forget, you can schedule your next service appointment with us online.”, or even a simple “Let us know if we can be of any more help.” can all work here.
The other great thing about receiving good reviews is the opportunity to share those reviews with the community; a #humblebrag, if you will. Take the review, put it on an aesthetically pleasing background, and work it into your monthly social media post mix. In the post, don’t forget to thank the customer once again for the great review.
…and now the bad.
Bad reviews can feel cruel, unsubstantiated and can hit your ego hard. But when your next negative review comes in, think of it as an opportunity. With a thoughtful, well-composed response you have the power to turn a bad customer experience around while showing your customers that you care.
First things first. Before responding, take a moment. The hardest part about negative reviews is they can draw up a lot of emotion and, in turn, cause you to go on the defense. The last thing you want to do is act defensively and/or call out the customer in your response. It can come off as accusatory and can be cringe-worthy for those reading it.
Instead, before going directly to your keyboard, find the customer in your system. If contact information is available, pick up the phone and call them. Apologize first, then find out more about what they experienced and, if possible, work through how you can turn it around. Then respond to the online review by thanking them for taking the time to speak with you. If the call went well, include something along the lines of, “I appreciate the opportunity to turn your experience around.” If you weren’t able to find a resolution, along with thanking them for the call, include something like, “I’m sorry for any frustration this situation has caused you and we will use your feedback to improve customer experiences moving forward.” If you can’t locate the customer in your system, respond to the review per above, and ask them to reach out to the most appropriate party directly.
With so many industries being automated now, what people really want is to know they are being heard and responded to by an actual human being who cares. As long as you are responding appropriately and within a proper timeframe, it will show that you care about your customers and that you’re taking the time to personally reach out to those who aren’t 100% satisfied.
Not to be forgotten…the ugly.
With the anonymity the Internet has provided us, people can be downright cruel and untruthful when it comes to leaving reviews. Because of this, it’s important to take into consideration whether responding to a negative review is going to make things worse. Situations like these are very rare, but in some cases, it is better to not respond at all.
It is also important to note that although each review platform differs, you always have the option to report the review and request its removal. The downside here is a lot of platforms make it difficult to remove negative reviews unless they expressly violate the platform’s rules. But if you find a review to be untrue and harmful to your business, report it and make the case for having it removed.
Especially in these (please forgive me) unprecedented times, emotions are higher than ever. People are under tremendous stress, so a different level of patience, comfort and empathy in your responses should be considered. Beyond this, keep in mind that not every customer is going to be 100% satisfied 100% of the time. Do what you can to resolve the bad and be thankful for the good.
Online reputation management for automotive dealerships and groups is an important, time-demanding job that takes a lot of care, organization and attention to manage. When done right, it can be incredibly beneficial to your brand and the success of your dealership or group. If you could use a little help in this arena, or are not sure where to start, let’s have a conversation.