Online reviews are the go-to resource for consumers. The majority of shoppers will scrutinize reviews before visiting a business, and they trust them as much as a personal recommendation. And with a big-ticket purchase like a car, prospective buyers will scour sites such as Yelp, BBB, Google Reviews, and Facebook, to research vehicles and carefully choose which dealership they want to work with.

Soit’s imperative that your dealership maintains a good online reputation. Reliability, expertise, and professionalism are important traits. And the way you handle both irate and happy customers can really boost or hinder your business.

Always respond to both good and bad reviews

A string of negative reviews can hurt sales, especially if they’re not acknowledged or addressed. So as a dealership it’s important to generate good reviews by offering excellent service and by gently reminding loyal customers to please share their experiences online. But inevitably some customers will be unhappy with the service or product and will eagerly express their dissatisfaction online.

When reviews start pouring in, you must respond promptly to both the good and the bad. A quick response shows that you’re paying attention and that you value people’s opinions. It strengthens relationships and can attempt to neutralize and diffuse a negative situation.

Handle negative reviews with tact and grace

You build your reputation by being available, transparent and showing you care about your customers –even when they’re angry. A negative review is an opportunity to demonstrate this concern. We all want to be treated with respect, especially when we’ve spent a lot of money.

It’s important to say thank you for the feedback, highlight your strengths as a dealership and use a tone that’s approachable -in other words, write like a person, not a corporation. This will endear you to your online community and those reading the exchange. You may not be able to make the reviewer happy but by taking time to craft a well-written, courteous and gracious reply, you’ve shown you’re a true professional. Never be defensive or combative in a review reply, but then again don’t apologize for perceived wrongdoing either. Instead, offer to take the conversation offline so the issue can be discussed and resolved in private.

Don’t forget to answer positive reviews

It’s equally important to respond to positive reviews, and this is where many dealers fall short. Always say thank you. Someone took the time to write something nice about you. Who doesn’t like to be thanked or at least acknowledged after making such an effort? Respond in a friendly conversational tone and greet the reviewer by name or screen name, as little personal touches go a long way. Tell them you appreciate their business and congratulate them on their new car. End by inviting them back to the showroom anytime if they need anything in the future.

Show you value your customers

Consistently responding to reviews shows how much you value your customers. And including personal details demonstrates you’re genuine and not just sending out an auto-reply. The key is to be prompt, polite and friendly to everyone who leaves a review, whether good or bad.

Remember -prospective buyers are always watching!

Written by Scott Boyd

Sports fan. Coffee lover. Entrepreneur. California dreamin'. The only thing I enjoy more than writing about cars is driving them around town... especially old hot rods. Find me on Facebook and Twitter.

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