Like it or not, customer reviews are a big deal for dealership service departments. We know, it doesn’t always feel fair that a seemingly innocuous set of “star ratings” can have such an impact. But it does.

Many potential new customers are going online to vet you long before they make an appointment to bring their vehicle in for service. And what they read in that list of reviews will shape what they think about you before they drive into your service bay.

Customer stats graphic

While those numbers may not be specific to auto dealership service departments, you can be sure they apply to our industry, too. Whether retaining current customers, getting new buyers to return for their first service appointment, or attracting new business — having a bank of (hopefully positive) online reviews is not only good for potential customers when they’re deciding on service and maintenance, it also helps them find you in the first place. When people in your community write about you online, it affects your SEO (search engine optimization) and increases your visibility.

Think of online reviews as a “navigational beacon” that can help point a potential customer in your direction!

 

Creating an Effective Customer Review Process

Getting customers to write reviews really is a virtuous cycle that can benefit your service department in many ways. But it’s not as easy as simply telling your team to ask customers to submit reviews. No amount of “review us” stickers in your lobby will singlehandedly have an impact on the number of reviews you generate.

Boosting the number and level of reviews comes from a well-defined process and some key habit-forming behaviors.

1. Provide Great Service

Great customer service is the catalyst for an exceptional customer experience. And a positive experience compels positive reviews.

Especially for dealer service departments who compete with local mechanics that often offer a lower price point for service. Providing superior quality of work and customer service will make it easier for you to elicit glowing reviews — and retain customers.

Every interaction counts. From the ease of using your website, to the way they’re greeted when they call, to their waiting room experience, post-appointment follow-ups, and so on.

Customers have even been known to review the cleanliness of the bathroom, type of on-site amenities, and the amount of paperwork they have to fill out. Some of that is out of your control, but spend time making sure that every touch point that is in your control is as personal as possible.

Ensure ease and convenience throughout the entire process, and your customer reviews will be a sight to behold — in both volume and rating!

2. Make it a Team Sport

One of the best ways to encourage and incentivize customer reviews is getting your entire team on board.

By simply telling the staff “Hey, we got four 5-star reviews last week, let’s see how many we can get next week.” Then, when you’re up six more reviews the following week, everyone high fives and feels great.

This is where a goal board or some visual back area of your office can serve as a reminder of the goal, and rally everyone’s efforts around boosting review numbers.

To accomplish this, it’s often as simple as making sure your techs and office staff stress how valuable customer feedback is during the check-out process and provide instruction on where to go online to leave a quick review.

3. Use Technology

We’ve talked before about why your dealership needs to truly embrace the digital age.

Tapping into digital marketing can be especially helpful in streamlining your customer reviews. Many dealership service departments use tools like Podium and RepLev to automate the process:

  • When the RO is closed, the system sends a text to the customer inviting them to share their feedback with a link
  • The link takes the customer to a page that asks then to leave a review on Google, Facebook, DealerRater, Edmunds, etc. (this can be customized)
  • Automated email campaigns soliciting reviews can also be created as part of your customer follow-up
  • Many systems will even track and alert you to negative reviews so you can personally respond

All easy, non-invasive, one-click opportunities to gain reviews. And as your customers are becoming more open to being communicated to digitally, they’re happy to oblige and leave a quick review.

Communications methods preferred chart

 

How to Leverage Positive Reviews

Having a sizable collection of customer reviews out in the Internet ether to help spread the word is great. But if you can creatively use some of those reviews to further promote your service department — that’s even better. Brad Deery Motors in Iowa does a great job leveraging their positive reviews for maximum traction and exposure.

Used in email campaigns, Facebook and Google Ads, and even on YouTube if you can get video testimonials, the “customer review ads” always receive a good response rate.

Screenshots of review ads

 

How to Handle Negative Reviews

Try as we might, we can’t please everyone. Negative reviews are inevitable, whether warranted or not.

So just be sure to regularly check your customer reviews on Google, Yelp, Edmunds, and DealerRater. It’s imperative you stay in the know on what they liked about their experience, what they didn’t like, and if they had expectations you couldn’t meet.

Acknowledge all reviews and personally respond to the negative ones with an effort to remedy the issue — get on the phone if you have to. Before you reach out, talk to any of your managers or employees who may have been mentioned in the reviews (good or bad) and understand their perspective.

 

Do You Have a Service Department Customers Can Rely On?

There’s no doubt customer reviews can help drive your business forward, and we hope some of the tips shared here will help increase your positive online reviews. Remember that ultimately, dealerships that offer unbeatable vehicle maintenance and customer service are far more likely to dominate the review’s arena, which in turn sparks interest in potential customers and future business.

If you’re interested in learning more about how DriveSure’s unique suite of benefits helps dealerships stand out from the crowd, contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation.

This article was originally posted to DrivingSales.com

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