Negative reviews can make or break an auto dealership. Although several other factors affect the reputation of a car dealership, customer reviews carry maximum weight. Almost all car buyers start their car-buying journey online, and 59% of auto buyers choose a car dealership based on their reputation. But, while the overall buyer experience is improving, it’s not all good news. Why? Because of fake auto dealer reviews.
Whether they’re fake bad reviews by competitors, a disgruntled ex-employee, or an unreasonable customer — or fake good reviews that dealers themselves are posting — fake auto dealer reviews are something you need to be aware of.
It’s easy to not post your own good reviews — just don’t do it! Solicit reviews the right way, do your job well, and the good reviews will come. Fake good reviews won’t really help you. They can be costly, too. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is now fining car dealerships and auto dealer groups for fake reviews, unfair sales practices, and deceptive advertising. Just recently, they fined a car dealership company $3.6 million dollars for posting fake reviews and misleading advertising.
So don’t post your own reviews. But what can you do about the bad fake auto dealer reviews?
Research shows that 9 out of 10 car buyers search for the best deals online and approximately 60% of them choose companies with a stellar reputation. So, if your car dealership has negative reviews on the first page of Google, you could have lost 50% of your potential customers. Not only this, but fake reviews can also pull down your search engine rankings. Search engines give online reviews a weight of 9.8% of the total ranking factors.
Here are some useful tips for spotting fake reviews for car dealerships:
Spot the Marketing Language. Most genuine reviews have an authentic, informal, and natural tone. And, on the other hand, fake reviews comprise more extreme language to get the reviewers’ message across to the audience. Fake reviewers tend to write more about the technical jargon than their experience with your car dealership.
Understand the Content of the Review. Fake reviews are often posted by those who don’t know you and have never visited your car dealership. If the reviewer is trying to malign your reputation, they may complain about your services or staff members that don’t exist. If you spot discrepancies in the review, flag the review immediately on the review site. Also, a fake review is often short and poorly written. It will not have any firsthand information about your dealership.
Check the Reviewer’s Profile. Most reviews sites such as Yelp allow you to check the reviewer’s profile. In a majority of the cases, fake reviewers never create a complete profile. Their profile might lack a profile description, profile picture, social connections, etc.
Watch the Frequency of Reviews. If somebody wants to tarnish your reputation, they won’t stop at one fake review. They’ll create different profiles and post a number of fake reviews in a short span of time.
Once you’ve spotted a fake review, here’s what you can do:
Respond to the Review Tactfully. Before you shoot off an angry response or hyperventilate, take a deep breath. You can respond in two ways. One, respond with your contact details and assure the customer that you will address their issues. If you get a response, you can try to sort out the customer’s issue and request them to update their review once you’ve resolved their issues. Two, make it clear to other customers that the review is fake and add a line at the end of the response saying “Regardless if you could still contact us, we would be glad to assist you.” If you can prove that their claims are inaccurate, you can hold a strong position while calling them out on the fake review and reporting it.
Report the Fake Review. Once you spot a bogus review, you can report it to the review site with evidence to support your claims. Different review sites provide business owners with different tools to report fake reviews. For instance, you can report a Google review by clicking the “red flag” next to it. While you are waiting for the fake review to be removed, draft a clear, concise explanation as to why the review is fraudulent and should be removed.