Customer satisfaction is key to a shop’s long-term success. Satisfied customers are loyal and almost never give your shop a bad review. Unsatisfied customers, on the other hand, are highly likely to leave a bad review for your shop online.

Every shop needs a strategy for handling upset customers and resolving issues before they become a bad online review. If your shop doesn’t have a plan for avoiding bad reviews – or if your current strategy isn’t working – this post is for you.

Get Proactive to Protect Your Online Ratings

star rating

The best ways to prevent a bad review are to amp up your communication with customers:

  1. Personalize the service from the start. Beginning with the appointment phone call or when a customer drops his/her car off, make sure that a client-facing employee treats the customer right. They should talk to the customer for a moment, smile, address the person by name, and listen carefully. This establishes rapport, which is important in terms of getting candid feedback from customers.
  2. Encourage complaints. Tell your customers that you want them to say something if they’re not completely satisfied. Establish this culture with all of your employees. Everyone must be ready and willing to hear from an unhappy customer because the one thing an unhappy customer wants is to to be heard. Listening is strong protection from bad reviews.
  3. Hang a sign. Some “stop if you aren’t completely satisfied” signage is great, especially if you put the shop manager’s name, face, and direct phone number on the sign. Make sure this information is on the customer’s receipt, too.
  4. Follow-up with everyone. Follow-up is crucial when it comes to preventing bad reviews, especially if the follow-up is fast (next day is ideal). Ask every customer to rate their satisfaction on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being “completely satisfied.” If the customer gives you anything less than a 5 out of 5, someone needs to investigate ‘why’ with the customer. While this might seem like a high standard, a person who gives your shop a 3/5 might leave you a 2 or 3 star review online. That’s a bad review, generally speaking.
  5. Don’t give up on follow-up. No response to your survey? It’s important to keep trying. Usually when consumers don’t respond to these survey calls, it’s because they’re busy. However, there are times when a customer is angry and intentionally avoiding the follow-up. For this reason, it’s essential to try to follow-up multiple times.

One of the side benefits of this process is that you know exactly who your happy customers are. They’re receptive to follow-up and give a good rating. The person or system doing follow-up should encourage these happy customers to leave your shop a review online.

Give Positive Responses to Negative Feedback

Angry customer
Responding to a critical online review is the best way to limit its’ impact. Image copyright Ion Chiosea.

You and your employees have followed the steps above and are confronted with an angry customer. What now?

Here are the next steps to prevent the consumer from taking their grievance(s) to the web:

  1. Defensiveness is bad. When a customer has a complaint, it’s important to listen and resist the urge to talk until the customer has voiced their complaint. Again, listening is strong protection against bad reviews because many people write reviews when they don’t feel heard.
  2. If applicable, apologize. Mistakes do happen, and saying you’re sorry goes a long way in business relationships. A sincere apology often diffuses even the angriest customer.
  3. Empower your employees to resolve issues, and, if your business requires a manager’s involvement for resolution, make sure a manager is always available. Timing is crucial. Fixing a problem as soon as possible is a great way to keep it from “blowing up.”
  4. Always offer a solution. If your shop bears no responsibility for the customer’s problem, resist the urge to say so and move on. Instead, offer some sympathy for their frustration and some kind of solution. Employees can say, “I know exactly how you feel – I’ve felt this way before myself. I’ve found that a good solution is to…”, and then ask for feedback.
  5. Stay calm. On one of those rare occasions when nothing will calm a customer or resolve a conflict, it’s important to keep your cool. Often times, the most irrational customers are dealing with a personal issue that’s causing them to overreact. They will likely realize this after the fact, especially if the person they’re dealing with is calm, cool, and sympathetic.

Make Sure Every Shop Employee Knows That Bad Online Reviews Cost Money

Mechanic Saab

Everyone who works at your shop needs to understand that person-to-person complaints are a terrific opportunity to increase customer satisfaction. They also need to know that bad reviews cause damage for the whole team.

Bad online reviews discourage customers from visiting your business. Bad reviews can also hurt your search engine rankings. It’s been estimated that reviews have a 10% influence on Google’s search results, moving your site up or down. Bad online reviews can also encourage customers to anticipate problems, making them more likely to complain.

Last but not least, it’s a good idea to reward staff members for dealing with upset customers competently. A shop staff member who can turn an angry customer into a happy customer deserves recognition, just as staff members who always do good work. If you reward shop staff for fixing problems, that will help reinforce the culture your shop needs to be successful.