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The biggest mistake you can make.

Some people make the mistake of letting these sit out there.  That’s the #1 mistake.

Bad reviews are an opportunity!  In most cases, they can be even stronger than a five-star review if you respond correctly.

How?  It’s all about trust.  When people are reading consumer reviews (from their peers) they are trying to answer the question, “Can I trust this place to deliver?”

What is even more credible than a peer review?  An owner’s official response.

Think about it.  It’s unexpected.  You came looking for peer reviews, but when an owner exposes the real truth behind a bad review, it’s like the satisfying conclusion of Matlock.  It’s like finding a smoking gun.  It says, “Everyone loves this place but this guy.  He’s apparently full of crap or full of himself or being paid by a competitor.”

Case in point:

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While this is not a great example of a professional response, you can clearly see that an owner review has a different format that makes it stand out and more authoritative.  

The Top 3 Keys To Turning a Bad Review into a Positive:

  1. Be Proactive – The review is only bad review is a review without a response.
  2. Reach out to the customer personally before responding if possible. Irrational uncooperativeness on the part of your client is ammunition just as much as a reaching out and being able to report a successful resolution is.
  3. Craft your response carefully.  Nothing can ruin your credibility faster than a sloppily written reply.

Respond as quickly as possible to negative feedback.  Most social media platforms will let you respond to comments.  That’s only fair after all.  Best of all, business owner’s comments often have a unique ‘owner’ tag that establishes authority.   This is the key to turning a negative into a positive.

There are always two sides to every story, and everyone instinctively appreciates this.  Even though you can’t erase a negative review, most customers will forgive a company when they hear things from the owner’s side of the story.

Before you respond, reach out to the customer directly after you see the review.  Never criticize the consumer.  Offer a calm, compassionate response.  Provide viable ways to fix the problem.  If the customer accepts your solution, then that’s great! If the client does not, that is also fine as you will see.

If the client refuses your offer, you can just craft a well-written reply that you reached out the customer, offered a generous solution (be specific), and they are still not happy.  If there was a legitimate mistake, make it clear that you are happy this happened and you are putting measures in place to correct this problem going forward.  Anyone reading that will see that you respond proactively.  Customers know that business owner’s and employees are human and make mistakes.
If the client does not accept your solution, usually that is because he or she is irrational.  Point out irrationalities (unwillingness that ties your hands) where possible.  People reading reviews will identify with having to deal with a difficult person and take your side.  Everyone knows the frustrations of dealing with hard-to-get-along-with people. Never be judgmental.

For example, “I offered a discount, but the consumer insisted on a price below what I buy wholesale at auction.  I could not stay in business at the customer’s requested price.  I understand everyone has frustrations from time-to-time, but this client used disrespectful language that my hard-working team should not be subject to.”  

Note that this write-up shows understanding – “everyone has frustrations.”  Doing so proves that you are reasonable.  The more reasonable you seem, the more obvious it will be that the customer is unreasonable.  Solicit your team for advice to see if there is something that could have been done to prevent the problem.  Your team will appreciate you seeking feedback on the situation.  Improve any problem that leads customers to feel their only outlet is to attack your business only social media.

Lastly, Implement review solicitation program.  This could be as simple as a flyer as part of your closing packet.  Consider an incentive to go along with your request.  With hard negotiators, you can throw in a positive review as a contingency.  Sincerity and honesty are also usually appreciated.  The following is an example of a sincere, straightforward earnest request, “I hope you are satisfied with your experience.  I would greatly appreciate an honest review of our business.  I’ve included a link in the email with your other materials.”

Using a procedure like this could get your dealership a lot of reviews in no time, which could go a long way to help you stand apart.  An online prospect would choose the dealership with many reviews over the one with only a handful.

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