“If you lose dollars for the firm by bad decisions, I will be understanding. If you lose reputation for the firm, I will be ruthless.” ~Warren Buffet
This week I was asked to give a Social Media & Online Reputation assessment for 5 auto groups across the U.S. These groups contain all the main categories of auto retail: Imports, Domestics and high-line European. I was shocked at what I found. One well-established BMW store had 18 reviews for a total of 1.5 stars. 14 of those were 1-star reviews and they’re all posted on page one!
In the 2011 Cone Online Influence Trends Study, research found that 80% of shoppers change their purchase decision based on negative reviews.
Some dealers and other businesses mistakenly believe that having a presence on Social Media is separate from online ratings. The Social customer looks at you holistically. They’re shopping for their next car, or to service their current one, and they visit Social Media sites simultaneously. If they read reviews like this example above, 80% will go elsewhere.
The time to act is now. Dealers have been rated for years through their franchise-specific Customer Satisfaction Index. Those results are published by the OEMs and JD Power. CSI is one of the most important components of daily operations. Social commerce demands that you sit up and take notice. When negative things are said about you online, you need a strategy, just like the CSI process, to counteract them.
Sadly, the dealers I analyzed thought not that many people paid attention to the online ratings or they simply didn’t have the tools to rectify the situation. If you find yourself in this same position or if you feel like there’s not much you can do about it, think again. Being proactive about obtaining online reviews is critical to your bottom line.
A best practice strategy for online reviews is to train your front-line personnel on how to ask for them. You trained them on CSI procedures and you’ve incorporated CSI into their pay plans. Set goals for your online reputation. Motivate, recognize and reward your staff to get their buy-in. It’s going to interrupt their daily routines for a while so be creative. Give a monthly bonus for the best review or hold a contest for who can get the most authentic 5-stars reviews. As your staff becomes aware of your intent, so will your customers.
People with a negative experience are always more motivated than a loyal happy customer, it’s just human nature. But for every dissatisfied customer, there are at least 100 happy customers who can be invited to tell their story. Good customers write great reviews. You need to be diligent in asking them to do it. Encourage authentic reviews so that when a potential buyer starts their research, your online reputation reflects the opinions and experiences of your raving fans.