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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Keith Shetterly

Keith Shetterly Owner

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Why At-Business Customer Reviews Make Sense

First, let me assert this:  There is NO such thing as “purity and sanctity” of a customer review of a business.  Of ANY business, dealership or not.  Why?

For any review "collector" (Google, etc.), trying to police reviews while thinking otherwise is Pollyannaish and is really an enormous “plate of spaghetti” (whether the reviews were performed on the business’ property or off)—because either, or both, the business and the customer may have agendas that bear little on the actual experience and more on their personal and/or business reasons.   And that’s assuming the review came from a real customer—as both businesses and individuals can “game” any system of reviews, and they will.  So, again, whether the reviews are done on or off property of the business does not change that.

And gaming is hard to fairly detect, even if you start by looking at a pattern of reviews done by a single individual, or reviews done once by an email that is never used again, etc.  None of that will ever be fair—because, for example with Google Places, customers may or may not use Google as their primary email, they may not review often, etc.  And seeing a review IP a thousand miles from a reviewed restaurant may just indicate a review after travel.  And so on.  What makes a lot more sense is looking for patterns of abuse that have to do with relevance of review content.   And even that can be misleading.

As to IP monitoring, watching a business IP for review creation on-property is also unfair to both the customer and the business.  Shouldn’t a customer on the business’ guest wireless be able to review that business?   Should the business be forced to purchase tablets on the local cell network just to avoid being “detected” while taking REAL reviews from real customers?

And the whole idea that reviews that are asked for are somehow invalid is ridiculous:  It’s long-known before the Internet that happy people don’t write letters and unhappy people DO.  Modern online reviews are the same way; human psychology hasn’t been so altered on this point by the Internet as to make any difference in the outcome.  Businesses have a right to ask happy customers to share their experiences because the business MADE THE EFFORT TO PROVIDE THAT EXPERIENCE.  More so, the business has a responsibility to future customers to provide the full spectrum of their experiences.

Finally, understand that “gaming for profit” will happen in any review system.  Customers have in the past threatened bad reviews (and will again) in order to get their way (or even gain financially) when they should NOT be allowed to do so; businesses will also be approached by 3rd parties who promise “great reviews” from shill customers in return for $.  And combos of all that and more will happen.  NO MATTER WHAT IS DONE—and the more policing that is done, the more valid reviews will be discounted.  And lost.

The best path is to remain as neutral as possible and allow the market to do what it will wherever that is possible—and so reviews taken at a business are valid, but maybe reviews of a business that are always 5 star might need a look.  However, the real push should be to educate shoppers on what to look for in business reviews so that they can police validity themselves.

Because customers started reviews of some kind way back in the annals of time.  And they should be able to continue that wherever they want, unfettered, but strongly educated.

 

by Keith Shetterly, Copyright 2011
All Rights Reserved www.keithshetterly.com
keithshetterly@gmail.com

Heather MacKinnon
Keith, I'm having trouble understanding your argument on this recommended process. Can I ask you, what other types of business promote this “in house” process? Do you eat at a restaurant, have the waiter drop a check and a laptop off at your table asking you to write a review about the meal you are currently digesting? Do you get your haircut and have the stylist or barber come over, brush the hair off your shoulders, then ask you to write a review while you are sitting in the chair? Do you check out of a hotel and have the Concierge pull you behind the desk to write your review about the Hotel you have not left yet? Absolutely not right and why? Because its 3rd Party content and the value behind 3rd party content is that is offers a transparent look at the business, product or service. I'm not suggesting that it is perfect or foolproof however these reviews are or should be credible 3rd party reviews written by the consumer at home or at work away from the dealer in a pressure free environment when they have the opportunity to post a true and fair review of that experience. If a consumer is so over the moon and makes the decision to post about an experience on their smart phone that’s fantastic. Asking for the customer to actually write and submit the review however when they are still in your place of business, is altogether different. The recommended process for any type of business is getting a verbal commitment from the consumer while they are in the showroom preferably from the employee they worked with as there is a personal connection there and then follow up day 1 or 2 after the visit with a reminder email linking the customer to review site of choice. The second you set up shop in a dealership and request reviews to be written there, you are going to have that consumer questioning the validity of the reviews they read about the dealer BEFORE they entered your dealership and decided to do business there. How credible do you think the will feel these reviews are now that they know dealer is asking customers to post in the showroom? Honestly, how many consumers are going to post a negative review while in the dealership? Don’t you think that will occur to them? Final note, Why are CSI surveys only allowed to be completed outside of the showroom? Reason is, the Manufactures do not want the consumer feeling pressured to give a positive score therefore they are required to complete in the privacy of their own home or work. Reviews should be collected with a similar principal in mind. Why are you going against every industry standard and asking consumers to post in your place of business? Unfortunately many consumers enter the experience anticipating that the dealer will be dishonest or looking for a way to cheat correct? They anticipate it and now you are giving them a reason to confirm that belief. Bad idea. Request reviews be written at home or at work and you will have much more mileage leveraging these reviews and building good will. Perfect case of Quality far outweighing Quantity in the mind of the consumer.
Keith Shetterly
Eh. It's not a 'bad idea' of any significance to do them on property for those customers who will do so, but it's certainly not as profitable for folks who want them done off-property on their website. As to how it's "unfortunate" that customers anticipate a dishonest dealer, let's inject a little honesty into what happens to the review they write: Many customers enter review site thinking they are going to just review a business and help their fellow shoppers--even with a positive review, they really don't comprehend that their review may be used for benefit of a competitor to the VERY DEALER THEY LIKED! I wonder what they would think if they did know? Regardless, Smartphone review apps exist, so exactly where a review should be done is . . . well, try and police THAT. Anyway, we both know we are not going to agree that on-site reviews are bad or a bad customer experience. I've stated my case, and you've stated yours very well here. At that, I am comfortable letting the dealer body decide; my recommendation isn't changing. I'm just going to continue to look for a review operation that suits me. Thanks for talking to me at Digital Dealer.
Keith Shetterly
Oh. I should mention that I've helped several dealers do on-site reviews, personally asking the customers myself in the initial cases. Customers don't mind, because they known darn well that, if they are happy, they won't review the dealer at home. Takes a few minutes before delivery (and there are other convenient spots, too). Real reviews from real people really IN the dealership. Sky didn't fall on me. Anyway, I just wanted my personal experience on this matter out there.
Dave Wasserman
Generally, a dealership's customers are happy. The few who are not happy are more likely to write a bad review. The dealership must answer all negative on Yelp or Google Reviews ASAP. I recommend trying to get more customers to do reviews, remember most of your customers are satisfied. One way to get happy customers to write reviews, is with signs around the dealership. http://www.socialmediadecals.com helped our dealership place YELP and Google Review signs in our dealership. It's like telling people your a BBB member, it shows you're proud of doing good business.

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