Our response scribes have written at length about the benefits of responding to online reviews, which include better Google rankings, greater customer retention, and, perhaps most crucially for the long-term health of your business, increased control over your hard-earned reputation — all of which, as any business owner knows, are integral to a successful marketing strategy. Replying to reviews is a relatively simple and cost-efficient way to simultaneously boost your SEO, promote deals or announcements about your company, appeal to dissatisfied customers, and reinforce brand loyalty among satisfied customers — all with just a few thoughtful sentences. Responding to customer reviews also gives you a vital opportunity to mitigate the damage that could result from a negative comment about your brand, such as an allegation of discrimination or a complaint about low-quality service.
These general principles apply to all types of brands and businesses. However, replying to customers may be especially critical in the automotive industry, if recent statistics are any indicator. Let’s take a look at the data and interpret what it might mean for your car wash business. Then, we’ll share some suggestions from Car Wash Magazine — and our own review responders — on how to reply to reviews of your car wash business more effectively.
Why Should You Respond to Customer Reviews of Your Car Washing Business?
According to a 2020 survey conducted by BrightLocal, in which “a representative sample of 1,013 US-based consumers” was interviewed on a wide variety of subjects relating to online reviews, 87% of consumers, or nearly nine in 10 shoppers, said that they browsed reviews of businesses in the “automotive services” industry. And critically, nearly all of those consumers — about 86% — said that they “believed reviews were important” in the auto services industry.
Comparing these figures against other industries tells a revealing story. For example, 87% of consumers said that they read reviews of clothing stores — the same percentage that reported checking reviews for auto service businesses. However, only 66% of consumers said that they believed clothing store reviews were important, compared with 86% for automotive services. In fact, there were only three industries where customers placed higher importance on reviews than in the auto services industry; and even then, only by a slim margin: restaurants/cafes (87%), hotels/bed and breakfasts (87%), and the medical/healthcare industry (87%). Likewise, BrightLocal ranked the automotive industry in fourth place not only for having the “most viewed” reviews, but also for review importance. User reviews were less impactful on consumers in, for instance, the dental services industry. The survey authors suggested a possible explanation for these trends around automotive reviews, writing that the high importance consumers placed on reviews was “likely due to the higher stakes involved in picking a trustworthy provider for…your vehicle’s health.”
Whatever the explanation may be, it’s clear that customer reviews have a significant impact on car washes and other businesses that provide automotive services, such as body shops and service technicians. But it isn’t just your reviews that your customers (or potential customers) are reading — it’s also the responses you provide. BrightLocal’s survey found that, “When looking at consumers that read online reviews for local businesses,” virtually all of them — a total of 96%, to be precise — “also read businesses’ responses to their reviews — with 40% saying they ‘always’ read the responses.” If you aren’t responding to your reviews, you’re losing precious opportunities to market your car wash business, rank higher on Google, and provide better customer service.
While there are many benefits to be reaped from a solid review response strategy, knowing what to say to your customers isn’t always obvious — especially when their feedback is negative (or outright unfair to your business). Read on for a helpful overview of some tips from Car Wash Magazine, including example responses to get you pointed in the right direction.
What Review Response Tips Does Car Wash Magazine Recommend Following?
If you own or operate a car wash business, you may already be familiar with Car Wash Magazine, which describes itself as both the “preferred source of information for car wash business leaders” and the “official publication of the International Carwash Association.” (Or, if this is your first time hearing about the magazine, you can check out its online archive of features here.) Here are some tips that Car Wash Magazine — and our own review responders — recommend for handling not only negative reviews of your business, but also neutral or even positive reviews:
- Claim your business on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other websites or apps where customers post car wash reviews. Most of the major review platforms offer free accounts that business owners can use to monitor, manage, and respond to their reviews. For example, here’s how to claim and manage your business listing on Yelp. While it’s a smart idea to claim your listing on Google, Yelp, and anywhere else you regularly receive reviews, there’s an easier, more efficient alternative to monitoring each website or app individually. Through our innovative review navigator, our car wash review tracking service automatically consolidates all of your reviews into a single, secure, easy-to-navigate dashboard, saving you time while making it effortless to organize, sort, and reply to your reviews by location, date, or other filters. We even offer a review reply service, taking all the work out of the response process so that your team has more bandwidth to tackle your big projects for 2021.
- Avoid becoming defensive in your response. If you receive a negative review — or even a positive review that contains a negative comment — your first impulse will likely be to defend your business and provide a counter-argument. That sort of response is understandable, but contradicts best practices and will harm your business in the long run. Even if you feel that the reviewer is being unfair or that there has been a significant misunderstanding, remain calm and polite throughout your response. You can always discuss the details of the complaint over the phone or via email, but should omit these particulars from your reply. Instead of attempting to resolve the issue in your response, it’s recommended that you encourage the reviewer to contact you, at which point your team can take the appropriate next steps.
- Maintain a courteous, positive tone throughout your reply. That’s simple enough with a positive review, but becomes more challenging after you’ve received a 1-star rating. Remember the previous tip and set aside any temptation to argue with, question, or correct the reviewer. Leave anger and other negative emotions out of your response, writing with your potential customers in mind. If you keep your cool and display a friendly, helpful attitude, you’ll be more likely not only to repair the damaged relationship with the original reviewer, but to win over undecided consumers who are still in the process of evaluating your business.
Want to see some examples of these strategies in action? Check out our articles on topics like replying to 2-star ratings, or responding to fake reviews, which offer plenty of sample replies to help you get the ball rolling. Just remember to customize each of your responses to the reviewer’s comment, which will help your brand create a more memorable impression. A detail as simple as including the reviewer’s name in your response, rather than resorting to phrases like “dear member” or “valued customer,” can help make a positive impression that promotes brand loyalty. In fact, we’ll be exploring the power of personalization in our upcoming blog post, so be sure to check back in with us next time for detailed advice on tailoring each of your responses.
How Can Your Car Wash Improve its Review Reply Strategy and Satisfy Customers?
Responding to online reviews can increase your visibility, improve your public image, and encourage satisfied customers to keep coming back for more. Get that critical edge over your car wash competitors by engaging in an aggressive review reply strategy designed to help you rank in the local pack. Shout About Us makes it easy, offering not only an intuitive dashboard, but your own dedicated team of response scribes to create custom responses within 24 hours of receipt. Whether your car wash business is in need of secure and reliable review management software, or you’re searching for a comprehensive review response service to handle all of your ratings and comments, we can provide bespoke solutions for your midsize to large business.
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than five years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.