How Do You Ask for the Customer Review?
By Ted Ings, Executive Director
Whether we love them or hate them, customer reviews are here to stay, which can make or break the dealer.
More often than not, though, for those who do not capture the same volume of reviews as their competition, the bad reviews stick out like a sore thumb.
Think about it for a moment; we know this is the retail automotive industry, right? But let’s use a restaurant in this example, and you are browsing for a spot to eat. In looking at the multiple options available, you see one specific restaurant who had a few raving reviews two or so years ago. But as of late - within the last three months - they only have a 1-star review? With no comment from the establishment. Do you think you would give them the same chance as the restaurant with multiple 4-5 star reviews within the last month? Probably not.
Whereas, even if the restaurant with 4-5 star ratings had a bad review, but the restaurant commented asking if they can make it right? You might see it as an anomaly versus common practice.
The same principle applies to the retail auto industry.
We have to be cognizant of the fact that the customer has more options today than ever before. In their research, customers do look at reviews, which can shape their opinion on your store lessening your chances of selling them. Even though the bad review was just an anomaly, and you do have happy customers the bottom line is that they are not visible online. Leaving the customer only to see the negative reviews.
To capture reviews, the process has to be embedded into both the sales and service process.
Where the review is not an afterthought, but rather an integral part of what makes for an excellent customer experience.
Imagine walking into a dealership, and the first thing you see is a banner that shows off your awards, accolades, and accomplishments? It's something as simple as a banner - an on brand focal point - that can not only start a conversation but most importantly start the customers experience off on the right foot whether that is sales or service.
Beyond the visible dealer level POP - the customer review marketing should be a core element of all marketing efforts. Whether that is an email blast, social media post, service emails, etc. Use the positive reviews to your advantage. Another means of incorporating reviews is to have them loop through on the VDP's, which as you might know is the top converting page on a dealers website.
Here are a few key elements to assist you in the Review Implementation
Review Awareness | We Really Do Exist
There has been a great debate as to which platform is best to accumulate reviews.
Where there are those that choose Google, FaceBook, and DealerRater to name few as their main base. Regardless of the source your dealer chooses, it is imperative that there is consistency in getting the reviews.
The more reviews you have, the better. However, (as mentioned above) if you do not get “new” reviews, and your last “good” review was weeks, months, or years ago the customer is not as likely to trust the review or it will not mean as much as review that was just written within the last 30-60 days. Another thing to review before selecting the platform of choice - is to go into the business page (dealer pages), and make sure that all of the information is correct. You would be surprised as to how many dealers have either the wrong hours posted, phone numbers, or out of date marketing material on their page. All of which can be a detractor for the customer.
In addition to having the right facts, it is also essential to make sure you have new/updated photos online that represent your dealership in a positive light. Lastly, while it is great to have the social media platforms and review sites updated - it is just as important to make sure that the dealer employees are aware of your social media presence. If they are not aware, then they are much less likely to get a review!
Ask for the Review
Are We Asking? Or Are they Reviewing Them on Their Own Social Media Pages, Not the Dealer’s Pages?
For what seems to be the most natural part of getting a review “asking for it,” is actually in all reality the most challenging part. This could easily stem from the fact that there is still the notion of whether or not the sales consultant should be branding themselves or the dealership? Where if the customer does review them on a platform, which one?
In many cases, there are sales consultants and service advisors who have their own social media pages that are branding themselves - not the dealership - with their customers leaving reviews.
All of which goes with the sales consultant and service advisor if s/he leaves the dealer. Best practice would be for the review to be on the dealer's page as it brands the dealership while giving mention to the sales consultant they worked with. An easy way to accomplish this - so long the advisor/consultants social media page meets your brand's standards - is for the customer to tag them in the review. Allowing all parties involved to benefit.
Part of asking for that review is building it into sales process early on. Where before the customer even hits the store they are aware of the fact that you are well liked by the community; having a great social presence. One of the best ways to do this is by including a link in your email to the customer on their internet inquiry:
For example, you could use the following phrase:
“In the meantime, check out what our customers have been saying about us.”
So when the customer comes into the store for an appointment - as well as if they did not have one - you can initiate the “meet & greet,” and offer to “Mr. Customer, here at (ABC Motors) we strive for excellence in customer service. As we have (rating), please know I will do my best to provide you with an excellent experience.”
While this does not have to be the exact wording it offers a means of incorporating into the sales process that is non-evasive. But rather assuring the customer they can expect an excellent experience that is backed up by current reviews.
Time of Sale
The customer is most excited when they are about to leave the dealership! Where the vehicle is fresh and new. Asking for the review at the time of purchase can increase the odds of your getting the review.
Another time to ask for the review - if they have not already written one - is to ask for it when you follow-up with the customer the next day including that not only in the follow-up call. But also in the handwritten letter you send them!
This will not only get more reviews, but it will also afford the opportunity to ensure that there are not any issues that need to be resolved. Especially before the OEM sends their survey(s) out to the customer!
Bottom Line: those three key takeaways: Ask for the Review, Review Awareness, and Time of Sale is the “ART” of getting reviews.
Start out by making sure that the managers, sales consultants, and service advisors are aware of the social media platforms in which reviews are available on - explaining the value of using the brand “likeness” to sell the customer a positive experience. As in many cases using good reviews can reinforce, and separate their experience from your competition.