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Opinion

How Accurate Are Reviews?

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According to some surveys I’ve seen, over 80 percent of the buying public relies on reviews as a way to determine if a product or service is a worthwhile investment. The problem is that it can be difficult to tell when those reviews are a true depiction of the business or product and when they’re being skewed by a person’s attitude and biases.

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Automotive service seems to be one of the main services that gets thrust under the microscope with the average consumer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dealership or an independent shop, somebody always has a gripe about something. I have a feeling that most of these disgruntled people are the same type of individual who goes to a restaurant, eats their entire entrée, then complains to the manager that they found a hair in their soup and want the whole meal removed from their bill.

I’m convinced that a lot of these negative reviews are more of a case of “you get what you pay for” than anything else. I tend to wonder what is going through the minds of some customers who decide to go to a rundown repair shop in an old building with a hand-painted sign dangling by a rusty nail, only to complain that the service and repair were substandard. What did they expect?

What’s more disturbing are those who leave a negative comment, but don’t have the nerve to leave their real name or come to the shop first to try to rectify the situation. I guess some people would rather complain than try to get their issues fixed.

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Are You Part of the Problem?
Not every negative review is unfounded, of course. Sometimes our own shortcomings get in the way of successful customer relationships. For example, do you consider yourself a no-nonsense, straight shooter? While you may think you’re getting right to the point with your customers, your tone of voice and off-color sarcasm may not be for everyone. For me, I’ve never been one to think I was going to make personal friends with everyone who came in the door — I always figured, you get what you give. You come in with an insulting attitude about my trade and profession, you’re going to get a similar type of attitude back at you.

This is where as a shop owner, or head mechanic, you’ve got to take a step back and realize the service counter may not be the best place for you. If your expertise is diagnosing the various systems in today’s vehicles, but you’re not much interested in holding a meaningful conversation with a soccer mom, you might focus on spending your time under the hood. Knowing how to repair vehicles is one skill set; getting the work in the door is another. That’s where hiring a service writer or taking some business coaching classes to become more aware of how you interact with customers can come in handy. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses. Find yours and those of your employees, and then leverage them to more effectively run your shop.

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Is There a Cure?
The big thing to consider is whether or not your reviews are justified. You have to ask yourself, “Are these reviews worth the time to worry about, or are they not a real representation of the shop?” Either way, if 80 percent of the buying public is paying attention to reviews, it is something of which you have to be mindful.

So, what to do about combating negative reviews? Well, it’s pretty simple. Ask all of your customers to leave an online comment every time they have any service work done at your shop — don’t let the few misanthropes out there outshine the majority of your happy, satisfied customers. Start using these review sites as a billboard to let everyone know what you do and how well you do it, not just as a complaint department for those disgruntled irritants who try to use the Internet as a weapon.

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