By on

Cars

There are several automotive review sites that car dealers, auto shops, service centers, and similar automotive-related businesses constantly keep an eye on: Google+ Local (formerly Google Places), DealerRater, Cars.com, and Edmunds, among many others. But if you’re in the business of selling cars, parts, or services, perhaps none of these sites is more important than the survey rating.

Just last week, The Consumerist published a story about one particular Ford dealership, and how seriously – too seriously, in fact – it takes its customers’ survey ratings.

After Wil’s purchase of a new car didn’t go as smoothly as he expected based on past transactions with Ford, he didn’t give them a great survey rating. The dealership manager’s completely proportionate response? To E-mail Wil and tell him that he is no longer welcome at the dealership, and to never come back.

Here’s a screenshot of the dealership’s GM E-mail:

(Image credit: Consumerist.com)

It’s not the first time that a Ford dealership has gone bananas after receiving a bad customer service survey grade. A few months ago – again as reported by The Consumerist – Bob, a Ford Fiesta buyer, was all but threatened by his dealer, who told him that if Bob couldn’t give a “satisfied” rating on the survey he was about to answer, then he may well expect the dealer to stop servicing his car. (The dealer also tried to play the sympathy card by stressing “that a bad grade on the survey could affect the service tech and service advisor’s ‘paycheck and future employment.’”)

Bad Survey Ratings? 3 Don’ts for Car Dealers and Auto Businesses

Let’s check out what’s wrong here, and come up with a list of 3 don’ts for car dealers and automotive businesses when responding to bad survey ratings or reviews.

DON’T…

…tell anyone that you don’t want their patronage, ever. Wil, the customer in the first story, has actually been pretty loyal to Ford. (He was buying his third Ford.)  To be told by the dealership never to come back again – that he is no longer welcome – is bound to do more harm to the business than to the customer.

Sure, it’s understandable that these sorts of survey ratings represent the most important industry standards for the auto world. But these standards are set in order to attract the customers, to draw their attention to those who provide the best products, services, and experiences. Throwing out a customer – loyal or not – completely defeats the purpose of trying to generate positive reviews or ratings.

…respond to a rating or review without addressing the customer’s issues. Wil’s problems with the Ford dealership had to do with the salesman lying, the brakes being faulty, the tags having to be transferred from an older car to the new one. As you probably noticed in the above picture, none of these issues were addressed in the GM’s letter. The letter was just about how awesome this particular Ford dealership was. (“In 2011, (we were) awarded the Ford’s President’s Award for customer satisfaction.”)

If you receive a bad rating or negative review, don’t react. Respond. Address the issues that the customer is talking about. Resolve problems. Figure out a way to deliver better customer experiences next time. Say sorry for honest mistakes. And capitalize the first letter of the first word of every sentence. (Trust us: proper spelling and grammar will make you look infinitely more professional.)

…blackmail a customer. The second story featured a dealer that could suddenly refuse a customer future service, simply for a bad review. Well, that’s just asking for more bad reviews. (In today’s Internet-driven age, word-of-mouth spreads so fast.) It’s also a way of eliminating future opportunities to positively change customers’ opinions and experiences.

And also: surveys and standards were never created for dealerships to use these as leverage. The quality of the service they deliver simply cannot depend on what a customer has said about them.

Sign up today to get started with ReviewTrackers, a review monitoring solution for businesses of all kinds and sizes.

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.

Discussion

  1. rick

    if you were in the car business you would understand. I am a sales person at a nissan dealer. we get paid 20 percent of the front end gross profit and if there is no profit we get 100.00 . its been one hundred dollars for 20 years. 20 years ago we had very few deals that we 100.00 now because of compitition most all deals have no front end profit so most deals are 100.00. to offset this the manufactures pay us 60 to 200 per car depending on how many we sell in a month.the catch is our survey scores have to be 96.6 or higher.That means i need virtually all tens or it can cost me half my pay for the month.Think about that for a minute.Lets turn it around. Lets say you got paid commission for each review that is sent in and each review came with a survey.lets say that your score had to be 96.6 like mine or higher.and if your average came in at 96.5 you lost half your pay.How long would you put up with that.I feel its a way for the manufactures to not pay us.
    I had a customer give me a survey today in the 500s.it will take me ten perfect surveys to get back above. if i sell 20 cars thismonth im going to lose4000 dollars.I need that money to pay the rent.
    TO make it worse the dealer lost 12000 this month because of this survey. I like to punch this person in the mouth as hard as i can but of course i wont. I may call her and tell her never to come back. I will never wait on her again or answer any of her questions.Never! i cant afford to sell her another car,make 100.00 and lose thousands of dollars . Its bad business.
    Next you may think i deserved a bad survey. first she is a cheap bitch. went on tru car. a dealer looses money on any car sold at a tru car price. next she drove past other nissan dealers(about an hour away) because we had the best price. in her comments she said that it was way to inconvient to get to us.Bitch I didnt search you out you came to us.If she wasnt so cheap she could have bought much closer to home.she was also unhappy with how long the sales process took.In her mind it should take 1/2 hour to do the contracts.It takes me 15 to 20 mins to fill out the paliminary paperworh such as the [email protected],credit app,insurance info,trade form. After that is done the mgr has to input all that into a computer then the business mgr has to sit with the customer and make sure everythink is correct before he/she prints the forms and then he has to enter all that infor into the banks computer for a loan.it takes on average 4 hrs to buy a car.so she took it out on the survey.I cant afford customers like this . Customers like this are BAD BUSINESS

    Reply
    • Jeff

      :slowclap:

      Reply
    • tim ferrell

      Your problem is with Ford Motor Company, not customers. There should be zero pressure on customers to provide a good review as a “tip”. If you can’t make a living selling Ford cars, then a change of occupation is the answer, not intimidating and cajoling customers into providing false great reviews.

      Reply
  2. Josh

    Migs, unless you have experience in car sales, you have no business in writing this article. As Rick mentioned we make $100 off most car deals (and I sell luxury cars) We go above and beyond for customers who want everything for free along with thousands off the car. Bonus payout is contingent on a survey and unless you get 98% or above you fail! I have to pay my dealership $500 if I get a failing survey just because someone put a 9 out of 10 instead of a 10 out of 10. What if someone took $500 from your paycheck Migs after you gave them everything they asked for but they gave you what most would consider to be a good score? Yeah you wouldn’t like it at all, so here is my advice to you… STFU about things you have no clue about. This customer was probably a complete a-hole that couldn’t be pleased unless the car was free.

    Reply
  3. Kirk

    Echoing and tacking onto what Rick posted. Customer surveys directly affect the sales person / service person. Leaving a bad survey does exactly one thing, negatively impact the employees work life. It does not help the company improve…the company gives zero fxcks about the customer’s honest opinion. This is about generating an extremely high customer satisfaction rating that can be used for advertising etc. Furthermore, most csat surveys are evaluating the effort of the employee that helped you. If you got a faulty product or had to wait because the business was busy that day, then that has nothing to do with the employee’s performance. Business transactions are a 2 way street and guess what, not all customers are good customers. Some times it’s better for your business when a problem customer switches over to a competitor. I know that somehow it became sacrosanct to let customers walk all over you if they have a grievance regardless of whether or not it is valid. Bending over for them only reinforces their bad behavior and trains them to escalate imagined grievances in pursuit of some form of reward or compensation.

    Reply
  4. newmediaist12

    My God, I’ve no idea things were so bad in car sales! I’m appalled. I’ve never given a bad review to anybody, and I’ll certainly be even more careful the next time. It’s really stressful job.

    Reply
  5. Bowie

    This sounds like a case of spoil and nervous customer. People are forgetting that sometimes a customer isn’t right. It’s a stupid rule, made up by someone who did a desk job, and now it’s making my life miserable. I can’t stress you enough how many demanding and rude customers I had to deal in my career. They were always misusing “The customer is always right” rule. Well – no!

    Reply
    • Bowie

      They should make a website for bad customers. Isn’t it strange that some customers always complain EVERYWHERE?

      Reply
      • twitteraddict05

        A hair salon in my neighborhood has a “wall of shame” for that 😀

        Reply
  6. Mary Rose

    I always try to be polite when a customer complains. I would never act as this man did. It’s very unprofessional.

    Reply
  7. Erica

    So it’s ok to make an appointment at a dealership and get ignored for twenty minutes.. Or make an appointment and be seen an hour later. It’s all the same in car sales and truthfully as much as the guys and girls of the industry do a good job, there are still those that lack the respect of dedicated employees. I promise I will never buy a ford again.

    Reply
  8. G linton

    Dealerships have an obligation to be upfront and honest in their sales responsibilities. In my case I was offered a military veterans discount only to find out after 40 minutes of having someone peruse my my DD 214 that I didn’t qualify because I didn’t retire from the military. Neither the salesman nor the sales manager had a clue. Finally after I assumed a phone call they concluded that although I was a combat decorated Vietnam veteran they could not grant me the discount because I was not in service after 1985 nor was I within 180 days of discharge nor retired from active duty. Needless to say I was not happy. The issue was the the sales staff was simply not aware of the rules. I fault Ford for not granting all veterans a discount or none at all. I gave them a poor rating as a result. Should I be refused warranty service or future purchases I will seek an attorney to handle.

    Reply

Comment