Referrals aren’t easy to come by, and asking for online reviews for your auto repair shop adds a whole new layer of difficulty to the challenge. But when 88 percent of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, that’s a challenge worth accepting.
Think of it this way: If Bob tells Mary about his great experience with your auto repair shop, that’s awesome. But there’s no guarantee that Mary will remember your name in six months when a fender bender leaves her in need of body work.
However, when a customer like Bob leaves an online review on Yelp, Mary and countless other customers can find it anytime they want by doing a Google search for local auto repair shops. When you consider that 85 percent of consumers read online reviews, it’s hard to ignore the unlimited potential for referrals that online reviews represent over time.
If you want to tap into the unlimited potential of online reviews, you’ve got to run a smart race. Let’s look at how you can get from start to finish in three easy steps!
On Your Mark: Claim Ownership of Your Brand Online
If you’re not claiming ownership of your social media profiles and business listings online, you’re basically calling shotgun on your brand reputation. In other words, you’re not in the driver’s seat.
Listings for your auto repair shop are popping up on Yelp, Google+ and Facebook with or without your involvement, and customers are discussing your services. Wouldn’t you rather be involved in the conversation to make sure your brand is represented accurately?
Before you start asking for online reviews, you’ll need a strategy for streamlining the process. Step one is deciding which online review sites are the most appropriate for your company so you can focus your efforts. Here are three prime review destinations to consider.
With over 142 million monthly visitors and 77 million local reviews in industries ranging from auto repair to food and entertainment, Yelp is an ideal review destination for your customers.
According to Nielsen:
- 98 percent of Yelp users report making a purchase at a business they found on Yelp, with 85 percent doing so within 7 days and 27 percent doing so within one day.
- 80 percent of Yelp users visit the site with the intention of buying a product or service.
- Consumers consider Yelp to be the most trustworthy, influential online review site with the highest quality reviews.
Having positive online reviews on Yelp can add credibility to your business in the eyes of prospective customers. By claiming ownership of your Yelp business page, you can further influence that perception by keeping your business profile up to date with accurate information and quickly responding to Yelp user reviews in private or in public. Plus, you can monitor your success by tracking user reviews and lead generation.
Google My Business
Signing up for Google My Business will ensure that your business information is accurate and easily obtainable on Google+, Google Maps and Google Search. Whether a user wants to read online reviews, check your business hours, get directions or give you a call while on the go, they will have no trouble tracking you down, no matter their choice of device or application.
On the flip side, you’ll enjoy the convenience of online reputation management from one convenient location, whether you’re updating business information, tracking user feedback or responding to online reviews. You’ll also have insight into how customers are finding your business and engaging with your content.
Even if you haven’t set up a Facebook business page, there’s a good chance you already have one. Unmanaged pages are often generated when customers try to check into businesses that don’t yet have a page. Luckily, claiming an unmanaged Facebook page is fairly simple and approval usually takes no more than a week.
Get Set: Make Sure Your Customers Are Happy
Successfully installing a new windshield might be the centerpiece of a particular transaction, but it’s not the only variable determining the customer’s happiness. Is your process timely? Is your staff friendly and helpful? Are your prices right? These little things add up, and customers aren’t always forthcoming with such information until you ask for an online review.
Make it a point to communicate with customers throughout the process and make sure they feel taken care of on every front. Learn from their feedback and make adjustments as necessary. These conversations are also perfect for dropping hints about the importance of online reviews. Let customers know how far you’re willing to go to earn their continued trust and support.
Go: Ask for Referrals
Believe it or not, an overwhelming 91 percent of consumers say they are willing to give referrals. Unfortunately, only 11 percent of sales people are bothering to ask for them. Maybe that’s because they don’t have a sound strategy in place. Luckily, you’ve picked out your online review destination, now you just need to give your customers the road map.
Since auto repair is a brick-and-mortar affair, you have multiple opportunities to ask for referrals face to face. But simply asking may not always be enough. Despite the best of intentions, customers often forget. How can you help them remember? Here are some on-site suggestions:
- Print up business cards that contain your preferred sites for online reviews.
- Include online review information on receipts and invoices.
- Use signage in-store to encourage customers to visit you on Facebook, Google and Yelp.
- Have comment cards available so customers can leave feedback. Ask for permission to use their comments as testimonials on your website.
This same type of marketing works just as well on the web. But instead of signage and comment cards, you’re using buttons, links, CTAs and online forms. Add these to pages as appropriate so customers can click straight through to leave online reviews. The easier you make the process, the more likely they are to follow through.
If you offer premium content, such as auto body care and maintenance tips, you can add online review links to your download landing pages. You can also dedicate some online real estate to testimonials and create an online form and/or transfer testimonials from on-site comment cards.
When it comes to email, the numbers speak for themselves: 91 percent of consumers check email daily and 70 percent say that emails from their favorite companies always get opened. If you’ve made a customer happy, you’d be crazy not to follow up with a quick email asking for an online review.
Of course, not every customer is going to jump at the chance to respond to that follow-up email, but that’s okay. You can subtly remind them in future email campaigns by adding online review sites to your email signature. Every time you provide a new piece of valuable content, they have another chance to do you a favor in return.
Beyond the Finish Line: Be Responsive
Getting your customers across the finish line isn’t enough. You have to monitor and respond to online reviews in order to maintain your reputation and build stronger customer relationships. Thank customers for positive online reviews, and respond to negative reviews in a caring and resolution-driven manner. This not only shows the disappointed customer you care, but it shows every potential customer who follows that you take customer service and their satisfaction seriously.
Online reviews are an essential part of word-of-mouth marketing, one that promises to generate leads for your auto repair shop for years to come, but only if you take control of the process. By claiming your brand online, you can choose the review destination, map out the journey and drive more referral traffic into the sales funnel.