Using Customer Service as a Marketing Tool

It hasn’t been that long ago that customers were only able to handle customer service issues in person or by phone. Now, of course, there are many options for customers including social media, chat or through reviews. What would you do if a customer were standing in front of you paying you a compliment? Hopefully, you would thank them for the compliment and their business. If that conversation were negative (i.e., a complaint), most companies would attempt to make it right for the customer or, at the very least, apologize. In many cases, however, these customers who are reaching out to a business via social media or online reviews go unanswered.

An excellent article on AdWeek shared that businesses shouldn’t ignore customers but rather think of these communications as part of their marketing efforts. Every interaction with a customer, whether face-to-face, via social media or through an online review, present an opportunity to interact with a customer. And not only communicate with that specific customer but show other customers or even potential customers that you are paying attention.

What normally happens in dealerships?

Dealerships are highly sensitive to reviews. Whether those reviews are via a manufacturer’s CSI survey, social media or online, the wrong review can directly impact the dealership’s revenue. We know from Google that part of a car buyer’s decision-making process involves choosing whom to buy their vehicle from. The customers are super low-funnel, meaning that they are at the point where they’ve done their research, selected a car, and are now ready to buy. Bad reviews can easily cause a customer to stop considering your dealership and move on to the next one thus directly causing that dealership to lose a sale.

So, what should a dealership do to avoid this?

Many dealerships will pay attention when a negative review is left. They may or may not act upon it and respond in an attempt to solve the customer’s issues. The other end of the spectrum, of course, is that the manager reading that negative review already knows the customer’s complaint and simply ignores it.

Regardless of whether the dealership can resolve the issue or not, by merely responding they’re showing the customer that they’re listening. And not only are they showing that customer, but they are also showing other potential customers trying to decide which dealership to buy from that the dealership cares.

What about positive reviews?

Often, positive reviews from customers don’t get responses. Sure, dealerships see them, managers may share customer compliments with employees, and everyone is happy and high-fiving each other. While all of those things are great, there is one part of the process that is missing… the customer.

Dealerships should think of positive reviews or customer interactions via social media just as if the customer were standing in front of them complimenting them. By not acknowledging the customer who took their time to say good things about the dealership, the customer may feel ignored. However, if a dealership takes the time to respond to these compliments, even if only to thank the customer, the customer feels appreciated. This is how brand advocates are created.

The best thing a dealership can do is to ensure they’re responding to all customer interactions – whether those are via social media or an online review. By doing so, they’re showing both customers and the rest of the world that they’re listening. Those interactions can easily either create a sale or lose one. It’s not just excellent customer service but also the one thing that dealerships spend a ton of money on… marketing. And that’s how you not only retain customers but also how to influence new ones.

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