Dealer Reviews

How to respond to negative reviews

Don’t panic

Reacting too quickly or emotionally to a review has the potential to damage your image. Seriously think about how you want to react before reply to the review on our site. A negative review will be the biggest opportunity you have to show potential buyers just how great a service you offer.

Utilise a 'holding message'

Always buy yourself time by using a holding message. If you’re not quite sure how to respond or if you are actively trying to resolve the situation then leave a holding message via our ‘reply to review’ feature. e.g. “Sorry to hear about your experience David, our team will be in touch shortly to hopefully rectify the problem

Be brief when writing your reply

Take a step back and work out how to make it shorter, focusing only on the important element. Consumers don’t like reading long response so make it bite size.

Follow up a reply

If you’ve managed to turn the customer around, use the edit feature to update your reply.

Resolve the problem

The quickest way to a successful outcome is to resolve the conflict with the buyer. Once you’ve resolved the conflict use the ‘reply to review’ feature to show potential buyers that you have done so. Don’t ask for the review to be retracted, as a review in which the conflict has been resolved will be your most beneficial and powerful review.

Always respond professionally

Potential buyers look to see how businesses react to complaints and negative reviews, in fact it’s the first thing they do. Whatever your final message is ensure it is short, clear and to the point. Don’t waffle and certainly don’t resort to name calling or finger pointing…the buyer is always right!

Keep to the facts

If you reply with a statement that is untrue or cannot be substantiated, not only will the problem escalate but Auto Trader will be forced to remove the response.

Use the reply to draw attention to the many positives of your business.

Example: “We’re very sorry you had a bad experience. We’ve been in business for over 25 years and we strive to offer the best possible service but from time to time we do make mistakes. Our head mechanic will be in touch shortly to see if we can rectify the issue. Thanks John, Dealer Principal.”

Respond as a brand and not just as an individual

A good reply is written by an individual working for a business. “Here at Garlight Cars we pride ourselves on offering great customer service and we’re truly sorry that we didn’t live up to that standard this time. We’ll be getting in touch shortly to see if we can rectify things. Kind regards David, Dealership Principle.

Always apologise

Even when you’re in the right, always apologise. It doesn’t matter if the buyer drove his new car into another car on your forecourt and you won’t cover the repairs, you’re still sorry that it happened.

Relate to the buyer

Potential buyers will always relate to another person’s experience. If a buyer has had a poor experience then a genuine retailer would empathise with the buyer and this should be reflected in any reply made by the retailer. People like people who care.

Always leave a reply

Not replying to a negative review may give the impression that you don’t manage complaints. However, we’ve not seen any particular adverse to negative reviews with no response…its just feel like good practice. 

Reviews happen elsewhere

Managing reviews on other sites is important as sometimes consumers will look further afield than Auto Trader. This is the long tail of customer feedback online. So why not setup a google alert? This will tell you if your business has been mentioned elsewhere and often many sites will give you the opportunity to respond.

Admit mistakes and avoid passing the blame back to the customer

Even if you disagree with what the review has claimed, admit that things had not happened as you would have liked them to. Apologising, accepting fault or even offering compensation in a reply, is sometimes referred to as an ‘accommodating response’. Studies have shown that accommodating responses often evoke sympathy for the business receiving the negative review and leads to a more favourable brand evaluation by prospect customers. 

Ask your account manager for advice

Often getting an outside perspective will help you in dealing with a negative review. Outsiders will always have a clearer perspective and help you to frame your response.

Challenge the review

This is the last resort and only to be used if you feel the review is false in nature or that the buyer has made untrue or potential libellous statements that you can support with evidence.

The best approach is to manage the conflict and reply professionally. That way, you’re showing potential buyers how you deal with customers, even the most challenging ones!