Dealers Should Crave Feedback (even if some vendors try to hide it)

Originally featured on Dealer Bar.

Before anyone condemns me for throwing stones at other vendors, you should know that they’re not doing what I’m about to talk about for bad reasons. In fact, they believe they’re doing the right thing. Unfortunately, it’s not what’s best for dealers, customers, or anyone else.

The thing that many vendors and even dealers are often hiding from is negative feedback from customers. We all want to avoid having negative feedback posted publicly online, but there are tactics that many reputation management vendors use that some dealers like, namely the “sweeping under the rug” of negative feedback. By using the two-step process for soliciting reviews and feedback from customers, dealers and their vendors are trying to avoid hearing the bad things. They’re trying to avoid the heat. They’re trying to make the bad things that we often deal with less bad, but here’s the reality of the situation: bad isn’t that bad when handled appropriately.

Here’s some background. Most automotive reputation management companies promote a two-step process for garnering reviews on sites like Yelp, Google+, and DealerRater. They do this because it’s a good way to filter the bad; they send a survey out and if the sentiment is positive the customer is sent to review sites, but if the sentiment is negative they’re encouraged to give feedback to the dealership. Here’s one of several problems with this (not the least of which being that it’s against terms of service on many review sites). By making it a two-step process, the amount of direct feedback the dealership receives is hampered.

One-step processes are the way to go. Those who want to filter reviews (again, it’s against TOS for many sites) can still get the benefits of doing so with a properly crafter email and landing page but without the risks inherent with the two step process. Encourage people to leave positive reviews while giving them a venue during the first and only step to give negative feedback. We do this with the “Not Satisfied” button on the email and landing page, for example.

The reason that you want to do it like this (other than to stay within terms of service) is because you should love getting feedback, even negative feedback. Nobody wants it posted to their review profiles, but direct communication from a customer who was not completely satisfied is the way that many of the most successful dealerships in the country have been able to improve and excel above the competition. You shouldn’t just hope to get feedback. You should crave it.

The unhappy customer who tells you all about it can give you gems you can use to improve. The ones who are not talking to you still don’t like you and you can’t learn enough to fix it.