Today’s world is full of review sites and social media- the epitome of information at your fingertips. And because of this, reviews have become that much more important for customer retention and new client business. Search engines are becoming increasingly savvier by routinely displaying reviews (and review sites) very high in search results. Many dealerships are recognizing this and paying more attention to them, thus creating processes to encourage customers to share their experiences when buying a new vehicle. This feedback is great and can help foster your next sale.
However, why solely focus on just the sales department? Your service department is the life-line to your customers after the sale is completed, from routine maintenance and repairs to aftermarket accessory purchases to the encouragement of buying their next vehicle from your dealership. Feedback on our service department is equally, if not more important, and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
We all know it’s easy for a consumer who has had a negative experience to leave a horrible (or less than flattering) review of your dealership without any help from you. And, it takes a little more effort to get a happy customer to actually leave you a glowing evaluation. Does it have to be this hard? No; by taking the few minutes to engage the customer to ensure they are satisfied, then asking them to share their positive experience, can be that simple. Most customers who feel they have been well treated and received good value will be more inclined to share their experience, even if the request is suggested by your service team. For those customers who chose to share a less flattering review, do yourself a favor and reach out and try to turn a less positive review into one more favorable. People can (and do) change their written opinion if they feel you made an effort to turn a wrong into a right.
Don’t fall into the trap of focusing only on sales reviews, thus neglecting your service appraisals. Unhappy customers don’t distinguish between the two departments when sharing or reading negative feedback. In a perfect world, you would never have to deal with negative reviews or be in fear of customers rejecting your business because of an off day. But in today’s world, where information is shared in real-time and at a moment’s notice, you need to be prepared to take the good with the bad. Whether it is sales or service, potential customers will certainly see all the shared feedback and will make their buying decisions based off another’s experience. How you deal with the feedback is what really matters… it can either make you stronger or set up for failure.
Here are a few thoughts on why you should be encouraging your service customers to leave reviews for your dealership and how those reviews can translate into more revenue for your store as a whole.
- In most dealerships, the service department produces a large percentage of the dealership’s income. And because of this, I would argue that there are more people using search engines, such as Google, Yahoo!, or Bing, looking for dealerships to service their cars than to buy a new car. Maximize this opportunity to spread the word.
- The competitor base is larger for service than sales. When you factor in competing dealerships, aftermarket car care centers and DIYers you need to grab the attention of your service customers. When buying a new car, customers have limited options if they are drawn to a specific brand. For example, if you are a Ford store, even in a dense auto market, you may only have 5-6 real sales competitors. However, for service your competition can quickly escalate to 50 or a 100 (depending on the marketplace) with all the various service options available. Make yourself stand out from the pack.
- All dealerships strive to turn their sales customers into service customers. Apply this same logic to turning your service customers into sales customers. The fact remains that many of your service customers, if happy, will consider your dealership first when looking to buy a new car. Capitalize on this.
- On any given day, your service department, in reality, is going to be in touch and capturing the attention of more customers waiting for or having service performed on their vehicles than sales. It’s a numbers game. Take advantage of this opportunity. The best marketing is free marketing. Let you customers sell your business for you. AND, on the chance that you have a negative situation arise, work hard to turn it around. Don’t turn a blind eye to any opportunity.
With search engines incorporating more social signals into their algorithms, it will become increasingly important for you to get your customers talking about you. If you don’t already have a process in place to solicit reviews from service customers, start one today.
Final thought… at the end of the day, any customer review is an endorsement that can help you win new business, whether it is service or sales. Encourage your customers to sell your dealership, as word of mouth is the best form of advertising. It costs nothing and can empower you to gain a lot.