Bad reviews of your business on platforms like Google, Yelp, and even Twitter can have a big impact on business. One study found that 90% of people read online reviews before visiting a business. A further 86% would hesitate to visit your showroom if they see plenty of negative online feedback. It might feel infuriating that opinionated folk who’ve had one bad experience could affect traffic at your dealership, but look at it like this:

  1.    You at least know what people are saying about you
  2.    They might highlight legitimate problems you can resolve
  3.    You can also respond and turn the situation to your advantage

Let’s look at some simple steps you can follow to respond to negative online reviews of your auto dealership.

1. Respond to the bad reviews

It might be tempting to ignore bad reviews. You should avoid getting involved in an internet dispute, right? Wrong! Ignoring a negative view is bad PR. First, the reviewer will remain disappointed and the issue will remain unresolved. Second, other people will assume you didn’t respond because you don’t care or can’t fix the problem. It’s a great idea to register your business on major listings sites like Google and Yelp, and also on social media. But once you’re signed up, you open yourself to the possibility of bad reviews. So, make sure you have a member of staff who monitors them daily, and can respond fast to any negative feedback—nipping it in the bud.

2. Decide if the review breaks ‘house rules’

Occasionally, a reviewer is just a plain old troll. If they are personally attacking you or one of your members of staff, using profane language or going off topic, simply flag the review to be removed. You will gain nothing by engaging with disruptive or derogatory commenters Here are Google’s policies on the subject.

3. Make sure you understand the review

There are a limited number of reasons people will leave negative reviews. Presuming they’re not time wasters, the vast majority of reviewers will have left negative feedback because:

  1.    They have a genuine and justifiable complaint against your staff or your service
  2.    They have misunderstood who you are and what you are about
  3.    The person is simply hard to please, seeing reasonable service as not good enough

If you can categorize the review into one of these three forms, you will be better placed to respond to the review.

4. How write your response

If someone has left a harsh review of your auto dealership, your instinct might be to angrily lash out. Don’t do it! While it’s wise to respond fast, if you’re angry, you’ll write something you’ll regret. Remember—this is PR out in the open. Future customers will read your response from today and draw conclusions about you months down the line. So, take some time to think on it and decide how you’ll respond. We recommend taking the following approach:

  • Keep it short and sweet. It might be tempting to go into long explanations or ask questions for more detail about bad reviews. Avoid doing so.
  • Address the person directly, and personalize your response. Show you have read their review and understand what they are talking about. Was the salesman too pushy? Did the used car have problems that weren’t advertised?
  • If you’re in the wrong, apologize. In the end, being overly defensive will get you nowhere. Show you’re human, acknowledge the mistake.
  • If the customer has misunderstood your business, don’t be shy about pointing this out. But always avoid the temptation to be condescending.
  • If the person is being unreasonable, don’t expect them to change online, so avoid getting into an argument.
  • Try and move the discussion offline as soon as possible. Provide an email address or phone number for your customer service line.

5. Turn it into a positive

Finally, try and turn bad reviews into positives. If the customer was in in the right, give her a discount or freebie. Once you resolve the issue, and the customer is happy, ask her to update the review. Most often customers will be happy to oblige if you demonstrate proactive and personal customer service.

Managing your reputation online is a real challenge. If you need help dealing with customer reviews, talk to Carbon Marketing today.