In business, ignoring disgruntled customers is never good policy. In the age of social media, it's pure folly.
Dealers can learn from what recently happened to British Airways. The airline was the target of a promoted, or paid, tweet by Hasan Syed, whose father had lost luggage flying British Airways. Syed's message: "Don't fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous."
Six hours after the tweet, which Syed paid Twitter to reach a bigger audience than his usual group of followers, about 25,000 people had seen it, according to British newspaper reports. And it went viral as tweeters passed it along and blogs began carrying it. British Airways eventually apologized and resolved the problem offline by asking Syed to send it the reference number of the missing baggage.
Welcome to the new world of customer complaints. Today 80 percent of dealership reviews and comments are on Facebook and other social media, not the traditional review sites, such as Google and DealerRater, said Amy Peck, a reputation management expert.
Peck, senior manager of digital marketing at Naked Lime, a unit of Reynolds and Reynolds, said social media reviews tend to be more negative to dealers than those on the traditional sites. In fact, Peck said a recent Naked Lime study found that three of four reviews on Google+, Cars.com, Yelp and other traditional sites are positive. But on social media, three of four reviews or comments are negative, she said, citing anecdotal evidence. Peck's advice to dealers:
- Use available software to monitor the Internet for mentions of your dealership, good and bad. The general manager of one store that Naked Lime represents also has the company monitor mentions of his name.
- Don't ignore negative reviews or dismiss them as the work of whiners. They should be answered, but offline to prevent a public battle.
- Don't admit guilt. Apologize for the customer's inconvenience and try to make things right.
- Encourage happy customers to leave positive reviews on social media and traditional review sites.
You may e-mail David Barkholz at [email protected]