By Natasha Seidl
Dealers need to think twice about some long-held beliefs about automotive reputation management.
Here are a few of the latest findings that will surprise you.
Myth # 1 – You have to have all five star reviews. If you don’t, no one will buy a car from you.
The bad news is, the automotive industry has it tough right out of the gate. A new Cobalt reputation management eBook surveying over 2,500 dealerships found that, for all other industries, the average reputation ratio is 80 percent positive reviews and 20 percent negative reviews. In the auto industry, however, an unmanaged dealership reputation has an average of 80 percent negative reviews and only 20 percent positive.
The good news? Turning your reputation around may be easier than you think. When it comes to star ratings, breaking the 3.5 threshold gets you into the consideration set. In other words, don’t worry if your reviews aren’t 100% five stars. The fact is that people want to read real experiences, and will likely expect to see a few “bad eggs” mixed in. A mix of reviews builds credibility and trust in the mind of the potential customer.
Myth # 2 – If you ignore a bad review, everyone will.
It’s not just reviews that count; it’s how you respond. If car-shoppers see complaints, they are looking to see how you handled your previous customers. The fact is, reputation management is a human process, and ignoring a negative review will make it look like you don’t care.
Posting an automated response counts as ignoring a negative review. While it may even seem like a simple solution to copy and paste an auto response, it’s not effective. People see canned responses as untrustworthy and not transparent. You need to relay personalized and dedicated review response messages.
Myth # 3 – I can just do a “review drive” and get all the reviews I need for the year.
There is no quick fix for online review generation. Slow and steady wins the race. While providing a great car-buying experience is the foundation of a solid reputation management strategy, it’s not enough. It is essential to have an in–store review process that simply becomes second nature to the staff. Reviews are important to the business at every touch point where it makes sense – during delivery, at the cash wrap, and once the customer has driven home in their new car.
Natasha Seidl is a Reputation Management Specialist with Cobalt.