Turning Unhappy Customers Into Raving Fans

Handling Customer Complaints

In the world of reputation management, we’re often focused on the important star reviews and how they look in Google searches for our name. While this is an extremely important aspect of automotive reputation management, it’s not the most crucial goal of a strong reputation management service. At the end of the day, we want to make people happy.

This might seem like a no-brainer statement, but it seems to be missed by so many companies in our industry. The primary reason that my company acquired a stake in eRepBuilder was because we have found that their way of addressing unhappy customers’ needs for the dealers is the best first step in preventing reputation disaster.

First and foremost, you must identify those who had a bad experience at the dealership. Sometimes, people aren’t willing to express their displeasure while at the dealership, but they’ll certainly let their friends and family know about it at the least and they may want to burn the dealership with a scathing review on public sites. Our goal and the goal of the dealership is to identify the unhappy customers and take action to make it right.

Dealerships cannot wait until the negative review comes online before trying to correct the situation. They must be proactive in their efforts to identify those who were less than satisfied. The process by which we do it is similar to many of the reputation management companies out there, but with one major exception.

Most will send out a “survey” in an effort to prevent prompting a negative review. They will lead with an email to get the sentiment of the customer, then turn around and only encourage those expressing positive sentiment with a second email wanting them to fill out a review online. Those who were not satisfied will get a different email altogether asking them to contact the dealership directly.

This is called filtering. It’s frowned upon by most of the major review sites and can actually get a dealership in trouble if an unnatural trend is discovered. Rather than risk getting caught filtering, dealerships should do what eRepBuilder does for clients.

There should be a single email. That way, everyone has equal opportunity to leave a review. Some dealerships may be scared of this, thinking that if someone is unhappy and they see the link to Yelp, Google+, or DealerRater, they might actually click on them and fill out a bad review. However, eRepBuilder has a bold call to action on the review pages and emails prompting those who had a bad experience to contact the dealership directly.

This prevents filtering – the single email gives everyone ample opportunity to leave a good or bad review. However, that singular prompt to contact the dealership within the same email makes it more appropriate and encourages one of the two actions from the customer depending on how they feel.

People aren’t stupid. They know that there are review sites out there and a prompt within an email to leave a bad review is most often bypassed by unhappy customers in favor of opening a direct line of communication. Most people who leave a bad review do so because they were not given a channel through which to easily contact the dealership to express their dissatisfaction in that manner.

Once unhappy customers are identified through direct communication, the dealership now has the opportunity to fix the issue or simply to apologize for the incident or trigger that made the customer unhappy in the first place. This is the most important step. Do what you can when you can to make it right.

The biggest trap in the automotive reputation management world is when dealers are made to believe that the dangerous two-step filtering process is the right way to go. It isn’t. It’s dangerous. More importantly, it betrays the opportunity to make things right. Some people may express their dissatisfaction through the initial email, then not want to be bothered by the second email asking for more details. Using eRepBuilder takes away from this concept altogether.

If you make things right based upon empathy, hard work, and a sincere desire to earn their respect, unhappy customers can often easily be turned into raving fans. That’s the real goal.

Keep it simple. One email. Find upset customers. Make them happy. Reputation management shouldn’t be about stopping negative reviews. It should be about improving relationships with all customers whether they were initially happy or not.