“Reputation Management” is a term that has started cropping up in the automotive industry more and more over the past six months. It started out as something that very few dealers handled in house, maybe monitoring their Yelp profile or signing up for a DealerRater account. The concept has grown so significantly that some manufacturers are strongly suggesting, or even requiring that dealers get on board with this extension of customer service.
But how much does it matter? Do people even read these reviews? Can’t you just get all your employees to write a review and call it good?
Let’s consider those questions as we look at a little bit of evidence from dealers themselves.
An October issue of Auto News shared the pain of Boulder, CO dealer Fisher Auto Inc., whose Google+ Local page was purged of nearly 200
reviews due to a Google Update.
“Phone calls to the store from Google shoppers used to average 600 a month when Fisher Auto, which has Honda and Kia franchises, had 300 reviews before the purge,” said Mark Brady, Fisher’s executive director. (Source) After the reviews were lost, the dealership saw an average of 237 phone calls per month from Google.
Seeing the direct correlation between Google+ Local reviews and number of phone calls indicates that Reputation Management, which includes authentic review generation, can have a direct effect on a dealer’s bottom line.
In fact, there’s a lot of evidence that says car-buyers are not only researching vehicle possibilities, but dealership options as well. Two-thirds of customers are deterred by just one to three bad reviews and 52% of consumers say positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business.
So you get it, you need some reviews, and they need to be good. Before you go tell you sales and services teams to create some accounts and leave a bunch of reviews, take a look at what Yelp does to people who create fake reviews.
If you solicit fake reviews for your Yelp profile, they’re going to take a Scarlet Letter approach to consequences. The Yelp algorithm filters out any reviews it deems fake, solicited or inauthentic. This is determined by a variety of factors outlined in their blog called, “Yelp’s Review Filter Explained.“
As previously mentioned, Google also makes an effort to remove inauthentic reviews. Earlier this year, the automotive industry was hit hard (too hard, some think) by an update that removed any reviews that looked like spam. The system seems to have sacrificed a few innocent bystanders in order to achieve a greater good, but the reviews are gone for good. There’s no “quick fix” and the only way to succeed is to do a good job, and ask satisfied customers to share their stories online. That’s it, your only option.
With that, let’s revisit the questions from above.
How much does it matter? A lot.
Do people even read these reviews? Absolutely.
Can’t you just get all your employees to write a review and call it good? No, definitely not.
Therese Kuster is the Director of Digital Reputation at TargetClick – Powered by Mudd Advertising. Contact here at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about reputation management, social media strategy and content marketing.