Is Your Service Reputation Sputtering? Give it a Tune-Up!

Satisfaction in the service drive

Online reviews are a lot like a multipoint inspection: just one red item means work is needed, even if everything else is green. A single bad review left unresolved can keep customers from visiting your otherwise successful service drive.

Dealership service departments feel the pain of online reviews more than many businesses. Maintaining a vehicle is almost never convenient and sudden repair costs threaten the average person’s personal budget. Expectations and potential for dissatisfaction are high, because while people need your service, no one actually wants to be there.

To complicate matters, customers now turn more to social media for their friends and family’s (and other consumers’) opinions. Some social sites like Facebook encourage recommendations and reviews when users check in to a location or are looking for places to visit or do business.

It’s critical your prospective customers get a positive first impression when making their choice for service. Let’s cover some of the basics for maintaining a positive online reputation and how to manage negative reviews.


Quality and quantity is best when it comes to reviews.

Customers read, on average, 10 or more reviews of a business before they make a decision to visit or keep looking (Bright Local, 2019). If your service department doesn’t have many reviews, and the ones you have aren’t all glowing, customers may not have enough positive social influence to confidently choose your dealership.

To increase the number of reviews on your website and 3rd party review sites, make sure you mention to customers at the end of their visit that you appreciate their business and you’d value their feedback online.

You can also email or text customers a survey once they leave service to encourage feedback. Using this approach helps measure customer satisfaction and find areas to improve your service processes. The best part of soliciting feedback proactively? Your dealership can vet any negative experiences and feedback before an OEM survey goes out, allowing you to address misunderstandings or complaints and avoid a lower CSI score.

Getting the review is the first step, but what you do next also matters. 97% of people that read reviews pay attention to the way the business responds online (BrightLocal, 2019). But be sure to respond to each review appropriately—the same response to every good and bad review, or a response that doesn’t address the review shows you don’t care about their feedback.

On the other hand, trying to resolve issues directly on a review site is dangerous. Responses can be taken out of context and lead to public confrontation.  To de-escalate problems and leave a good impression online, thank reviewers for their feedback, negative or positive, and then take any further conversations offline.


When you respond to reviews, consider including the following:

1. “Thank you.”

Whether customers are leaving good or bad reviews, they are taking the time to offer feedback. Even if the review is negative or angry, saying “thank you” shows you are willing to improve and make up for any mistakes.

2. Personalization.

If the review includes the reviewer’s name, vehicle, specific service performed, or other details, use them in your response to show your customers you are there to listen and engage.

3. “We’re sorry your visit didn’t meet your expectations.”

It’s easy to get defensive or upset when someone posts a negative review. Instead, take an empathetic approach and listen. If you get the same complaint from multiple people, it’s a sign your dealership has a clear area to improve. Consistent complaints in your reviews raise a red flag to customers, but resolving problems shows you care about making things right.

Please note: Choose your words carefully when it comes to apologizing for an experience. While it’s important to show empathy, you do not necessarily want to admit fault. Apologizing for an accused action could mean legally admitting wrongdoing, no matter if you actually did something wrong.

4. Reference their next visit.

The best sign of a satisfied customer is one that returns for regular service between sales and repeatedly buys their next vehicle from your dealership. If a customer leaves a good review, tell them you can’t wait to see them again! If someone leave a negative review, ask if you can make it right the next time.


Remember that social media and forums have created dozens of pockets where reviews of your service drive can get lost. Don’t stop at Google, Facebook, and Yelp responses; customers may also post on local postings or news stories that mention your business, as well as other lesser-known sites that allow comments and user-generated posts. A best practice is to set notifications to alert you of mentions of your name, whether customers comment directly on your pages, review sites, or elsewhere.

If you feel like you have to maintain a perfect 5-star rating on every site, don’t. Customers understand reviews can vary: what’s a 4-star experience for some may be a 2-star for someone else. 53% of consumers will still consider choosing a business with less than four stars; the most important part of reviews for most people will be how many negative comments are left, and how you respond to them (Bright Local, 2019)


If you aren’t sure if your service reputation could pass inspection, take this quiz to see where you can improve!