Although dealers tend to get good online reviews from consumers, the occasional bad ones can hurt.

They can bruise egos and feelings. Moreover, it can hurt business when someone expresses dealership dissatisfaction to thousands of fellow Internet users. One of the worst things a dealer can do in such situations is to ignore a customer’s online complaint, experts say.

“You can’t just do nothing,” says Peter Ord, a training manager at DealerSocket, a customer-relationship management firm. “Your reputation is your responsibility.”

The phenomenal growth of customer-satisfaction ratings across social-media websites creates the need to “monitor what people are saying about you, good and bad,” he says.    

Ord recommends quickly addressing every customer problem. It can turn a person with a complaint into a loyal customer. Getting a good review sometimes is just a case of asking for it, he says, adding that CRM tools can help that effort.

One of them is DealerSocket’s MarketPlace Social. Tapping into customer data bases, it allows dealers to solicit positive ratings for rating sites such as Yelp, Google and DealerRater.

The software automatically sends sales and service customers a thank-you email with a survey link. Customers who respond positively receive an email with links to online reputation sites of the dealer’s choice requesting the customer post a review.

If a customer responds negatively to the survey, the dealer immediately is notified, and has a chance to rectify a problem early on.

“Knowing who your happy customers are and partnering with them to improve your rankings on top social-media rating sites is a crucial component to social-media success,” says DealerSocket CEO Jonathan Ord.

Dealer clients often want ways to tie CRM into their social-media efforts, he says.

The average dealership customer rating is 4.4 out of 5.0 on the Cars.com review webpage, says CEO Mitch Golub.

“But dealers can find that negative reviews help because they reveal a problem that wasn’t readily apparent to the dealer,” he says.

Addressing reviews, good and bad, requires dealer engagement, “and dealer engagement gives you credibility,” Golub says.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com