The Do’s and Don’ts of Managing & Leveraging an Online Reputation

Dealer Rater

By Heather MacKinnon

A good online rep­u­ta­tion is a win-win for the deal­er­ship and its employ­ees.  Below are ­ five fun­da­men­tal do’s & don’ts to heed if you want to build and man­age online reviews as well as lever­age an online rep­u­ta­tion that enhances auto con­sumers’ inter­est in doing busi­ness with you:

• DON’T Dilute Your Rep­u­ta­tion.  Spread­ing reviews across too many third-par­ty review sites can neg­a­tive­ly impact a dealer’s rep­u­ta­tion and result in a dilut­ed and incon­sis­tent dis­tri­b­u­tion. Build­ing reviews on review sites that appear fur­ther down in the organ­ic search results (Page 2 and beyond) also height­en the organ­ic place­ment for those sites and raise the vis­i­bil­i­ty for unhap­py cus­tomers to vent in the future.

• DO Focus on Review Con­tent that Appears on Page 1 Search Results.  Main­tain focus on the hand­ful of sites con­sumers see when search­ing for infor­ma­tion about a deal­er­ship.  Test these search­es on your own by typ­ing in the” Name of the Deal­er­ship” and also the “Name of the Deal­er­ship + Reviews” to learn what sites are impact­ing your dealership’s rep­u­ta­tion.

• DON’T Ask Cus­tomers to Write Reviews in the Show­room.  This prac­tice caus­es con­sumers to ques­tion the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the dealership’s reviews due to the lead­ing nature of the process.  Google and many oth­er review sites track IP address­es and rec­og­nize this type of review as spam/fraud and will remove the con­tent.

• DO Ask the Cus­tomer for a Ver­bal Com­mit­ment to Write a Review While in the Show­room or Ser­vice Depart­ment.  Rely on Point-of-Sale Mate­ri­als such as   Rat­ing Reminder Cards to obtain the ver­bal com­mit­ment and fol­low up by send­ing a sim­ple reminder email day 1 or 2 after the vis­it that includes a link to the desired review site.  Edu­cate your sales and ser­vice sta‑  on the pow­er of third-par­ty reviews as strong refer­ral tools that also index strong across the Web.  Build­ing employ­ee buy-in dri­ves more reviews for the deal­er­ship.

• DON’T Play it too safe when it comes to reviews.  Begin by ask­ing your satis­ ed cus­tomers to write a review for your deal­er­ship.  How­ev­er, acknowl­edge that too many pos­i­tive reviews can call into ques­tion the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the reviews.

• DO Insu­late Your Deal­er Rep­u­ta­tion.  Once you have accu­mu­lat­ed 30–40 pos­i­tive reviews, and insu­lat­ed your deal­er­ship rep­u­ta­tion, make reviews an inte­gral part of our sales and ser­vice process­es.  Doing so will help you uncov­er and address any bro­ken cus­tomer ser­vice process­es with­in the deal­er­ship.

• DON’T Hide the Pow­er­ful Online Rep­u­ta­tion You’ve Built.  Be sure you are lever­ag­ing the pos­i­tive third-par­ty con­tent in front of all unsold prospects.  Be sure to men­tion your third-par­ty rep­u­ta­tion in all forms of adver­tise­ment — Online, Print, Radio and Tele­vi­sion.

• DO Have a Strong Offense to Com­pli­ment Your Defense.  Incor­po­rat­ing third- par­ty reviews into your sales process is a very pow­er­ful way to win the con­ dence of a prospect and result in the con­sumer choos­ing your deal­er­ship over anoth­er.  Fea­ture third-par­ty reviews on your deal­er­ships web­site, Face­book and employ­ee sig­na­tures.

• DON’T Fall Short in Mon­i­tor­ing Third-Par­ty Reviews.  It’s unlike­ly an indi­vid­ual — or a room of indi­vid­u­als — mon­i­tor­ing the Web would be able to keep up with all the poten­tial con­sumers who post reviews or have con­ver­sa­tions about your deal­er­ship.

• DO Mon­i­tor Review Con­tent from a Cen­tral Loca­tion.  New tech­nol­o­gy tools can save you time and pro­vide you 360-degree online man­age­ment and over­sight across all major review sites from a sin­gle com­put­er screen.

Heather MacK­in­non is Vice Pres­i­dent of Sales at Deal­er­Rater and can be reached at heather@dealerrater.com.

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