Tackling Online Reviews by Bethany Johnson of RBM North

How many of you read online reviews when making a major purchase?  Or any purchase?  Ever stopped to read a review on the cell phone case you plan to order through Amazon.com?  What about which Kindle your Mother In Law will like best?  Or even which treadmill for 2012 will give you the best bang (or weight loss) for the buck?

Before Online Reputation was the buzz word in 2010/2011, RBM of Atlanta-North realized in early 2009 that online reviews’ impact and visibility had reached a turning point. We, at RBM North, saw the major competitive opportunity, given the striking disconnect between the good customer experience luxury dealers actually provide, and the often far less positive online reputations.


RBM of Atlanta-North Mercedes Benz’ Process:

  • Let the whole store know how serious this campaign was – we replaced CSI survey bonuses with rewards-per-positive-review.
  • Implemented vendor tool to track all reviews/posts about the dealership, to immediately respond to customers.
  • For each new, positive CSI survey and with every visibly satisfied customer (sold/unsold), we politely request a review, following up via email templates with a landing page, that make it easy for customers to post by including links to targeted review sites.
  • Templates loaded on EVERY sales/service reps’ computer and can be customized & deployed in 3 clicks.
  • Rotate review site links to saturate reviews across targeted sites.
  • Don’t aim for all 5-stars or try to remove/rebut negative reviews publicly online. If negative reviews appear, use templates to gather positive reviews at those sites, to “surround them with love.” “If you do not ask for the positive reviews, all you will get is negative reviews.”
  • Establish online pages for salespeople to showcase their reviews – train them to use positive reviews to convert prospects.
  • Reviews included in outgoing email signatures, on website and in marketing.
  • Insist on great customer service. Identify anyone less than happy before they leave the dealership.

Google Places: RBM North’s online visibility campaign helped our new dealership thrive over several of the toughest years the auto business has ever seen. All this means that RBM North’s past, present (and future) hard work in the review trenches has (and will) pay off even more. For instance, when Google Places rolled out (a major change in the way local search results are displayed, giving far more visibility to a business’ reviews), “Our dealership’s 220-plus, near-5-star reviews now really leap out in local dealer searches at Google, as does our competitors’ complacency. Reviews are all stacked up against each other on the first page, and it’s pretty obvious who I would call.” Even when Google removed Third Party reviews from Google Places, RBM North still had over 100 5 star reviews while the competition was reduced to single digit 3star or lower ratings. The upshot: an immediate 30% increase in calls directly from Google/the review sites across Nov./Dec. 2010 compared with their summer numbers.

 

Our strategy was 100%-based on what auto shoppers actually do most (search online) – and what they seek most (the right dealership, with a great reputation). Despite the nearly absurd challenges we faced, these Online Reputation Management campaigns ensured we not only survived the recession – we prospered.

Current diverse disbursement of Online Reviews for RBM of Atlanta-North

Reviews by Site: Total Reviews: 562

 

Follow Bethany on Twitter @BethanyHotrods or on LinkedIn

Bethany combines a fifteen-year automotive background with an MBA from Mercer University to administer to the ever-expanding base of Internet sales clientele at RBM. As an Atlanta native, Bethany brings a rich history of being named Top Producer in North American Internet Sales for VW as well as Sales person of the Year at Porsche in 2006. She joined RBM-North in 2007 and takes great pride in successfully navigating customers through the intricacies of the Internet sales transaction.


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