Reviews and Raves: Making Customers' Web Reviews Work for You


Published on's Jack Simmons shares best practices independent dealers can use to build a great online reputation, driving more customer engagement, loyalty and higher sales.

Published in: Automotive, Self Improvement
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  • Also joining me today is Lauren Beaubien, a member of our Dealer Solutions team, who will be joining me for the Q&A after my prepared remarks.
  • How reviews have changed the game – completelyIdentifying your fans and getting them talking on your behalf Integrating reviews throughout your operations to build volume and differentiate your brandEstablishing a response process, including how to turn detractors into promotersMeasuring your success and driving even better performance
  • From Huffington Post: “United Airlines passenger Dave Carroll had his Taylor guitar destroyed by the airline's baggage handlers during a flight last year. After United repeatedly declined to reimburse him for the damage, he wrote a now-famous song decrying their customer service and their brand. It was funny, justified and smart. The damage to United's brand was undeniable.”Was 16.7M views on YouTube worth refusing to replace the guy’s guitar?United eventually fixed it, but you don’t hear much about that because second chances are hard to come by.
  • Another airline came forward and did the right thing – apologized and took responsibility for fixing the problem.In late 2006, massive ice storms prompted JetBlue to cancel numerous flights, but due to poor processes and poor communications, passengers were sitting on runways for hours, stranded with no recourse in cities for days, and generally mishandled despite a workforce who was eager to be part of the solution – all JetBlue needed to do was say the word.“We had so many people in the company who wanted to help who weren’t trained to help,” he said. “We had an emergency control center full of people who didn’t know what to do. I had flight attendants sitting in hotel rooms for three days who couldn’t get a hold of us. I had pilots e-mailing me saying, ‘I’m available, what do I do?’ ”AfterJetBlue’s meltdown, David Neeleman stepped up to the plate and apologized – promptly.  This is incredibly rare for a CEO to do, and ever rarer for it to be timely. We are sorry and embarrassed. But most of all, we are deeply sorry…You deserved better – a lot better – from us last week and we let you down. Nothing is more important than regaining your trust.Neeleman said he was “humiliated and mortified” and acknowledged that customers and staff (notice how he cares about his staff, not just his customers) had been through “hell”. Neeleman didn’t end there, he made appearances on the Today show and the “Late Show with David Letterman”, and introduced a “Customer Bill of Rights” that will go into effect.  He also said that each passenger who was on a grounded flight for over 3 hours will receive a free roundtrip ticket as well as a complete refund.The moral of the storyThe lesson here is apologies work, especially when they are sincere and backed up with “we’re going to make it up to you and we are making a plan to prevent this from ever happening again”…that is what regains trust.Neeleman turned this situation into a great opportunity for JetBlue to be a role model for other airlines – not in how they fell, but rather in how they dusted themselves off and rose again to lead in customer service.  Sometimes it takes a few mistakes to rededicate yourself to your goals. 
  • Big companies are also listening to consumer reactions online and making adjustments to avoid making huge mistakes. The banks ultimately reversed their decision due to backlash, which included significant Twitter activity.
  • Harvard Business School researcher did a study in the fall of last year on the effect of Yelp on restaurants and found that for every one-star increase in Yelp rating, independent restaurants saw their revenue increase anywhere from 5 to 9 percent. Furthermore, “chain restaurants have declined in market share as Yelp penetration has increased,” suggesting that online consumer reviews have become more influential than other forms of reputation.5-9% increase in revenue for each 1-star increase – ONLY TRUE OF INDEPENDENT RESTAURANTS, chains so no impact!!!No preferential treatment for bigger brands – that means a level playing field! In fact, because chains are a “known entity,” people were less inclined to write detailed, quality reviews, and since quality matters, it actually gives independent restaurants an edgelevel playing field + better content = big opportunity for independent businesses!!How it works:Power is given to the consumer, not the brandNo preferential treatment for bigger brands – level playing fieldContent matters --the researcher found that consumers respond more strongly when a rating contains more information.In fact, because chains are a “known entity,” people were less inclined to write detailed, quality reviews and since quality matters, it actually gives independent restaurants an edge – level playing field + differentiationThe effect was seen only in the case of local businesses vs. chains – power of reviews to help differentiate your brand Yelp is where consumers go to find a restaurant, so just make sure you’re focusing your reviews efforts on where consumers go to shop for a car. -- good analogy!
  • Bottom line: reviews drive more conversion, more engagement and are what consumers want.
  • Also note: Studies have also shown that having more reviews has a higher impact – even if the rating is lower. (bazaar voice financial services company?) Plug for volume
  • Free DealerCenterGoogle alertsNotify.meTweetBeepPaid toolsTrackur.comReputation DefenderBrandsEyeRadian6
  • This may sound like a simple tip, but often times we get so focused on resolving less than positive feedback, we forget to acknowledge positive comments that are left. Take this opportunity to show customers you listen and that you appreciate their acknowledgement of the experience you delivered. This goes a long way toward showing shoppers you are engaged, responsive and customer centric dealership.
  • Instead I recommend that you put negative reviews in context. Do they have one bad review among 10? Well, than that is actually a positive. We know that negative review is actually going to help your store more than hurt. How could that be right? It’s simple… A negative review that is balanced by positive reviews actually lends to the credibility of reviews overall.We know that shoppers look at the overall volume of reviews, they weigh negative reviews in relation to the number of positive reviews, they look at the tone, attitude of the reviewer and they also are understanding that outdated reviews, older than 12 months, may no longer paint an accurate pictureSo what if your store only has a negative review? The first step is to focus on building up your review volume. What if youare consistently getting negative feedback? This is a great opportunity to take a step back and look at your service and your process? Is this an opportunity to train and coach staff? To actually improve your store?  What else can you do in light of a negative review? You can respond, and often times thatresponse to a negative situation can build a more loyal customer or convert others to your brand by seeing how youhandled a negative situation. So let’s get into some tips for how to respond.
  • So how do you respond to negative comments?Directly address the customer’s concernTake the conversation offline by inviting the customer to contact youOn, you won’t have a direct means to contact the reviewer, so this is critical. Leave your phone number, leave your email. Most consumers at this point are not looking for resolution, but it shows review readers that you extended an olive branch.Save the discussion of “the facts” for when you and the customer are speaking privatelyRemember that your response influences current and future customers
  • These are from actual reviews – you can’t make this stuff up! Don’t just track what is being said, listen to what is said and use the information to improve your processes.Animate this slide to have these go one at a time – What should you do here? Next one?
  • Again, we are not talking about putting lipstick on a pig. If you continually have issues, you’ve got to make fundamental changes to fix problems in the store.Take ownership of what went wrongCorrect staff issuesImprove service qualityAddress policy issues
  • I want to stress the importance of truly building your net of advocacy. You can’t just go out and buy it or bribe shoppers to contribute. Consumers sense what is real and fake. On one dealer site, a consumer sensed the feedback was too good to be true and noticed patterns in the content that led them to believe the dealership was padding reviews. They contacted the local media. Don’t “buy” reviewsBe wary of companies who promise to “clean up” your reputationAvoid having staff, friends and family contribute reviews
  • In many cases, it just boils down to making the ask. Customers are happy to provide feedback if you give them the platform and ask them to speak on your behalf. Mine your CRM database for review prospectsRepeat buyersLoyal service customersTarget happy customers atthe point of saleCreate collateral directingto your review sites Website banners and buttonsE-mail templatesQR codes on in-store signage
  • On Ricky Lopez’s first day on the job as internet sales director at Greenway Dodge Chrysler & Jeep, General Manager (name?) asked him what the dealership needed to do to drive more business from their internet sales department, which was selling just a few dozen cars per month.For Ricky, the answer was simple: process, with a heavy focus on customer reviews.
  • The fact that (GM name) was so invested was a major point in Ricky’s favor, and (GM name)’s trust in his abilities and their alignment on what it would take to take the dealership to the next level paved the way for Ricky to implement a strong, well-defined reviews strategy.Ricky trains Greenway staff on how to monitor for reviews, how to respond and how to ask for more. The dealership also makes Reviews a central point in the recruiting process. Essentially, if you're not willing to go out and get reviews, you won’t be working here.Let’s face it, money motivates, particularly when you’re dealing with salespeople. Greenway incorporated reviews into its compensation policy by making it mandatory that staff acquire 3 reviews per month in order to receive their performance bonus.Ricky also incorporated Reviews throughout Greenway’s business – not just the Internet Service Department, which had been the main driver of review acquisition before he came on board. Now, Asking for reviews are as big a part of the dealership’s day-to-day activities as other core activities in every area of the dealership, including floor sales, F&I and Service, and he has a dedicated person to responding to make sure no review goes unanswered.
  • Greenway mandates 3 reviews from each sales and service professional – or they don’t get their bonus. To sweeten the pot, the dealership runs contests each month, rewarding the sales and service pros who get the most reviews to dinner for two and other spiffs.Reviews are included in the metrics displayed internally about each professional on staff – and competition is more heated than if they were on the PGA Tour!Customers are also invited to join in the fun – oftentimes, loyal customers are encouraged to help their sales or service professionals win the contest – “I’d love to win so I can take my wife out for a night on the town!”Reviews also help staff build their own personal brand. In fact, Greenway shares that they’ve seen shoppers drive an hour and a half to work with their best salesperson based solely on the reviews they read online.
  • Ricky personalizes his efforts by recording a customvideo thanking every customer for their recent purchase and asking for their feedback, including instructions on how to access his review pages. He also records videos thanking shoppers for visiting his store, as well as reminding customers of their sales and service appointments.He suggests, a free tool that hosts the videos and offers the ability to send the content to the customer via e-mail. Customized e-mail featuring your message and brand, doesn’t have “suggested videos” like You Tube does (who knows what shows up there), etc.
  • How one negative review paid off big:Used vehicle of interest sold while first-time buyer was delayed in the F&I processGreenway reached out to try to make things right; put him in a better model at a discount for his troubleCustomer’s sister was so impressed that she bought a new vehicle from Greenway herself!“We had a customer that was in here, and he was trying to get approved - call him into get approved because he was a first-time buyer, in the meantime the van he wanted to buy was sold. We got busy, went back to him and told him it was sold, he got mad, don't buy from -- lie to you, send the car from underneath you We always send a letter out within 3 days of a customer’s visit saying, ‘we hope you were happy, let us know if something didn’t meet your expectations.’ GM got an angry letter back from him -- Ricky called him, had him come back – ‘we have other used cars, we can hook you up because of the misunderstanding (discount)’ got him into a better vehicle with lower mileage at a lower price. His sister came with him and liked what she heard so much that she bought a new car.”
  • Internet vehicle sales up 1,000% over the past three years. The dealership attributes much of this success to its reputation management efforts.Since incorporating Dealer Reviews into their sales and service processes early last year, Greenway now closes 3x as many leads.Bottom line: reviews drive more conversion, more engagement and are what consumers want.
  • Reviews and Raves: Making Customers' Web Reviews Work for You

    1. 1. Reviews and RavesMaking Customers’ Web ReviewsWork for You 1
    2. 2. About MeJack Simmons • Dealer Training Manager, • Over 35 years of automotive retail experienceConnect with Me: 2
    3. 3. What We’ll CoverUnderstand how reviews have changedthe game – completelyIntegrate reviews into your processes toidentify your fans and get them talkingEstablish a response process, includinghow to turn detractors into advocatesPromote your great reputation to level theplaying field and differentiate your store 3
    4. 4. United Breaks GuitarsSource: Dave Carroll, YouTube
    5. 5. How JetBlue Made it Better“You deserved better – a lot better – from us last week, and we let you down. Nothing is more important than regaining your trust.” – David G. Neeleman, founder and chief executive of JetBlue
    6. 6. Banks Listen to Avoid Disaster Tweet VolumeSource: Javelin Strategy & Research
    7. 7. HBS: Reviews Level the Playing Field for Local Restaurants What researchers found: No preferential treatment for Tip: Fish Where bigger brands the Fish Are Yelp is a great place Higher-quality consumer to find a restaurant – are you focusing your feedback for indys vs. chains efforts on the sites consumers use to shop for a vehicle? 5-9% increase in revenue per +1 one-star increaseSource: Harvard Business School: Reviews, Reputation and Revenue: The Case of Michael Luca.
    8. 8. Reviews are Good For You! 5x Visitors to who read reviews are 5x more likely to contact a dealer. Consumers who read reviews on are 2x more engaged: they spend twice as much time on site and view twice as many pages.91% Price isn’t everything – 91% of shoppers said they would use reviews when deciding on a dealership.Source: Internal Reporting, DriverSide/Kelton Research Study, April 2011
    9. 9. Which Dealer Would You Choose?Source: Internal Reporting; DriverSide/Kelton Research Study, April 2011
    10. 10. Turn Your Fans into Advocates Share feedback Listen to feedbackMonitor across the Internet across the dealership Correct any Acknowledge andRespond reply to feedback underlying issues at the store Deliver a positive Ask satisfied Ask customer experience customers to write a positive review Share positive Reward sales,Promote reviews with prospects service staff for success 10
    11. 11. Start With a Good Experience The best way to manage risk is to start with an exceptional experience at your store.• Top-down commitment• Service-driven culture• Recruit for success• Process
    12. 12. Monitor What’s Being SaidFree: Paid:
    13. 13. Have a Response Plan Assign and Develop Involve and train empower policies and managers toresponsibility procedures support
    14. 14. Respond to Positive Feedback
    15. 15. Keep Negative Reviews in Context The Number of Reviews What to do if you get a negative review: • Address and fix problems An Credible TheEducated Website Review Reviews Itself • Respond professionally • Offset with more positives Balanced: Pros and ConsTip: a few negative reviews make you more credible.
    16. 16. Take Control of CommentsI’m sorry you had a bad experience hereat Simmons Automotive, and I’d like to tryto make things right.Please contact me to discuss at any timevia e-mail at,or call 312-601-5000.
    17. 17. Identify Areas for Improvement I emailed twice about a It had rained the night car and got no response. before, and apparently they When I called and asked left the windows open in the about the car, he said, rain all night. "oh we sold it," and didnt suggest another car or see how else he could help me. Instead of telling me it was broken, they duct- First, the salesman tried to get metaped it back on and put to sign a blank loan form... the new tire on over it!
    18. 18. Commit to ChangeUse customer feedbackto adjust process• Take ownership of what went wrong• Correct staff issues• Improve service quality• Address policy issues
    19. 19. Don’t Try to Fake Your Reputation 19
    20. 20. Question:How do you get customers to review your dealership? 20
    21. 21. You Just Have to Ask• Mine your CRM database for review prospects• Target happy Tip: Don’t recreate customers the wheel! at the point of sale Some sites that have reviews, like• Create collateral have electronic and printed materials available directing to your to you at no cost. review sites 21
    22. 22. Dealer Spotlight: Greenway Dodge 22
    23. 23. A Reviews Success Story Greenway Dodge Chrysler & Jeep 9051 E. Colonial Dr. Orlando, FL 32817Review Metrics• 4.7 stars/225+ reviews (since February 2011)• DealerRater: 4.7 stars/ 550+ reviews• Google+ Local: 4.6 stars/180+ 23
    24. 24. It’s Part of Their Culture• Buy-in from top management• Integrated into recruiting and training programs• Tied to performance metrics and compensation• Process implementation in every department 24
    25. 25. Offering the Right Staff IncentivesHow GreenwayRewards:• Tied to compensation• Spiffs & contests• Recognition 25
    26. 26. Tools That Help Drive Volume Campaign materials: • Reviews landing page at • Point-of-sale cards • E-mail template • Strong social media presence 26
    27. 27. Making it Personal With Video In his videos, Ricky includes: • Thank-you for recent purchase • Reminder to leave feedback • Instructions for writing a review • Contact informationRicky Lopez, Internet Sales Director Ricky also records reminders for upcoming sales and service appointments, all for free via 27
    28. 28. On Negative Reviews… “We dont mind if we get a bad review. Nobodys 100% – if they are, people worry youre writing them yourself.""We call the customerto see if we can make itright – they may eithertake it off or amendtheir review." 28
    29. 29. By the Numbers10x Internet vehicle sales up 1,000% 3x Closes 3x as many attributed leadsSome Drive 90+ Brings in out-of-market business MinutesSource: Greenway Dodge
    30. 30. Q&A 30