Three steps to leveraging online reviews


Photo Credit: planetc1, Flickr

Jonathan Sweet
December 21, 2012
Filed under Features, Top Stories

Consumer review websites have been back in the news lately after a remodeling contractor sued a homeowner for her online reviews.

As the Washington Post reports, Chris Dietz was hired by Jane Perez to remodel her home in 2011. Soon thereafter, Perez became unhappy with the work and posted negative reviews on Yelp and Angie’s List, including allegations of theft. A judge recently issued an injunction ordering the removal of the reviews. (You can read more about the case at the link above.)

Although the business in this case seems to be getting some justice, it can be difficult to get negative reviews removed whether or not they are false. Most online review sites won’t remove them without a court order. Even if you are in the right, there’s no guarantee your business will win in court. It also takes resources to hire a lawyer and pursue the case

Embrace online reviews

Most dealers are going to get a negative review at some point. It’s just the nature of doing business in a retail environment.

The key is to figure out how to handle them. Here are three steps to make online reviews a positive for your company:

1. Know what’s out there

You need to know what people are saying about your company. Do a simple Google search with your dealership name and the word “reviews.” Then, set-up a Google alert with your company’s name so you can be notified when things are posted about your dealership. (Go to This won’t catch everything, but it will help you stay aware.

2. Respond to negative reviews

Some review sites will allow you to respond to what consumers post about you, but you want to be sure not to make it worse by attacking the reviewer. Make sure the sales team is also ready to answer questions about negative reviews – there’s a good chance your potential buyers will ask about them. Finally, if the negative review stems from a misunderstanding or problem you can easily solve, contact that reviewer and see if it’s possible to address the issue. If you’re able to solve the problem, ask them to post an update to their review.

3. Solicit positive reviews

The best way to handle the occasional negative review is to bury it in an avalanche of positive reviews. From the beginning of every transaction, ask for those evaluations from your customers whether they be service, sales or another department altogether.

You may already be doing a lot of this to encourage them to give you good CSI scores.

Start with a simple statement like this: “Our commitment to you is to make sure that you are completely satisfied with your experience here. When we finish your (repair, purchase, etc.) we’ll be asking you to post a review of our work. Can you do that for me?”

If they agree, follow that up with a statement like this: “Please do me a favor. If at any time during this experience you are less than completely satisfied, will you bring it to my attention so I can address it immediately?”

This process accomplishes two things. It solicits that positive review, but it also signals to the client that you intend to make their experience as pleasant as possible.

Finally, when the boat is delivered or service work is completed, verify their satisfaction and remind the client of the request.



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