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March 4, 2016
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Online Reputation Management For Car Dealerships

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The online reputation of an auto dealership is crucial. Do you know what customers are saying about your business?

Why Reputation is Important

A positive online reputation is one of the most valuable assets a business can have. Auto dealers with a solid reputation rise above the competition and attract more business from online sources. Those with a tarnished reputation will suffer the consequences of lost leads and future business.

In this tech savvy world, people have come to rely on social opinion. More and more shoppers do research online before they decide to purchase items or services. This includes everything from searching for the best pizza to buying a car. A recent study revealed high percentages of shoppers are influenced by online reviews, recommendations, ratings and feedback from past customers.

Influential Online Factors

 

  • 85% of consumers say they read online customer reviews for local businesses
  • 71% of consumers say positive reviews increase their trust of a business
  • 65% of consumers are more likely to choose a company that has positive online reviews

 

Even Google searches are influenced by customer reviews. Businesses with the large numbers of positive reviews are now appearing higher in search rankings. This rather literal “rising to the top” of the perceived best businesses, perpetuates the success of those who have gleaned positive attention from the masses. Businesses with fewer reviews or worse, negative reviews, are moving further and further away from the top positions.

Stages of an Online Reputation

Building: A sterling reputation is not something that happens overnight. It takes time to earn public favor and even longer for positive reviews and recommendations to start trickling in. One of the best ways to accumulate online accolades is to ask for them. When a happy customer has just saved a bundle and is about to drive away in their new car, ask them to post a review on Google, Yelp, Dealer Rater or their favorite social media sites. Extra incentives like a free carwash or complimentary oil change in exchange for posting reviews might also help to increase positive customer feedback. Of course, dealership sales events, freebies, VIP membership deals, and customer appreciation days can also help your business earn brownie points with the public.

Maintenance: Once the hard work of establishing a great online reputation is finished it could be tempting to stop reading and responding to customer reviews but experts advise against this. Existing and potential customers love to see “human” interaction on review sites. Something as simple as a thank you posted in response to a positive review goes a long way in conveying that your dealership is customer focused. Reading reviews will also help you keep tabs on what is being said about your auto dealership. One quick way to see what customers are posting on Google is to set up a Google Alert (link this) for your dealership name. Every time something is said about your dealership you will receive a notice. To see what is being said about your dealership everywhere else on the web conduct frequent searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo with your dealership name and the word “reviews” at the end.

Recovery: Even if your car dealership is the shining epitome of excellence, there will always be customers who cannot be satisfied. Unfortunately unhappy customers seem to be the quickest to post reviews. If your dealership does receive negative feedback reputation recovery tactics should be used. The worst thing a dealership can do with a negative review is to ignore it. Although no one wants to read negative comments about their business, negative customer reviews can be helpful in identifying undetected problems within your organization. If the negative feedback is accurate the dealership might apologize in public and explain how the problem will be rectified in the future. A reasonable customer should appreciate the follow up and those who are unreasonable might just want to stir up a public debate. Therefore, if a customer is incredibly unhappy, a private reply might be the best approach.

Unfortunately fake reviews are often used to defame businesses that don’t deserve criticism. If you suspect that a negative review has been posted about your business for this reason, you can take steps to flag or report the review which will trigger an audit and hopefully result in it’s removal.

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