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How to Respond to Online Negative Reviews for Auto Marketers

how to respond to online feedback and interact with negative comments

A customer’s online perception of your auto dealership is important, since they will likely research you on the Web before ever stepping foot on your lot. Star ratings and reviews on sites like Facebook, Yelp, and Google+ are often crucial for your automotive digital marketing reputation.

But hey, don’t just take our word for it. According to Business2Community, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. 

Unfortunately, though, not every customer will have a rewarding experience at your dealership. Negative reviews are sometimes inevitable.

So how do you address a one-star review with a five-star solution?

This topic can get a little convoluted, but we’re here to provide you with some valuable advice in case a negative review pops up.

Think of us as an umbrella protecting you from a rainy thundercloud. We can’t make the rain go away, but we can help you through the storm until it passes.

Here are our top three inbound marketing tips on how to respond to online feedback and interact with negative comments.

1. Apologize — Don’t Get Defensive

A response to a customer who had a poor experience should be sincere. Don’t get defensive. Sometimes a simple apology, thanking the customer for their message, can ease the tension enough for the issue to dissipate.

If an owner or manager of your dealership replies to the review (and identifies themselves as such), the customer will see that your business is taking their comment seriously.

Here’s an example of a good reply back to a negative review:

“Hello, [customer’s name]. My name is [your name], and I am the owner of [your dealership’s name]. We are very sorry to hear about your experience. Your comment is important to us, and I’d like to discuss it with you directly. Please call us at [your phone number].” 

This message is a great way to address the issue while maintaining a professional tone. If the matter at hand is extremely important to them, they’ll call you (so be prepared!).

Genuinely admitting a mistake, and assuring the customer you’ll do everything you can to correct it, will earn you trust. Plus, other users who see your reply back will respect your attempt to fix the problem.

2. Report Inaccurate or Spammy Reviews

But let’s say the negative review contains inaccurate information. In that case, do whatever you can to get the false review removed.

If the outlandish or spammy review is on Facebook, you can report it by following a few easy steps:

  1. Go to the review and click the Negative Facebook Reviews in the top right.
  2. Click “I don’t like this review.”
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions.

Keep in mind that you can only report Facebook star ratings that include a written review.

If your questionable review is on Yelp, you may report it here. However, Yelp moderators will only remove a review if the consumer doesn’t describe an actual consumer experience with your business. So in your report, be sure to provide specific evidence about who wrote the review, since saying you don’t recognize the reviewer as a real customer isn’t enough. 

For negative Google reviews, you can use the “Flag as inappropriate” link next to the review. Again, Google will only remove the review if it’s considered spam. Read Google’s review policies here to learn more.

If you can’t get the wrongful review removed, respond to it publicly, pointing out the inaccuracies to get the truth out. 

3. Encourage Positive Reviews from Happy Customers

Positive reviews will help neutralize negative ones, so try to acquire as many as you can.

Can you think of an automotive customer who recently had an excellent experience with you or another staff member at your dealership? Reach out to them, and let them know you would love it if they shared their experience on your Facebook, Yelp, or Google+ pages. 

The customer will appreciate your interest in their thoughts. The more recent their experience, the more likely they’ll remember the happy feels — so act fast!

So how would you go about reaching out to a happy customer after their vehicle purchase?  Try emailing them a simple message like this:

“Dear [happy customer name], I’d like to congratulate you on your recent purchase from [your dealership’s name]. If you have a few minutes, please feel free to share a review or comment on our Facebook, Yelp, or Google+ page.”

Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. A message like this is easy to digest and isn’t asking for too much. 

Respond to Online Feedback & Nurture Automotive Marketing Leads

Monitoring and responding to customers online is a big part of the automotive lead nurturing process.

As a rule of thumb, if someone leaves a comment (good or bad) on any of your posts, continue the conversation. Reply to their message, and consider sharing any other helpful information. Use ratings and reviews to drive traffic to your website — where the conversions happen.

There are multiple ways to turn a stranger into a lead and encourage them to become a customer. Online reviews can often be someone’s first impression of your business.

You can use online lead tracking to connect with automotive leads. Download our free Lead Tracking for Auto Dealers eBook to learn how to turn online browsers into real-life customers.


Banner image: anthonycz