Archive for the ‘Reputation Management’ Category
A simple request for a $26.99 oil change ended up costing 94-year-old Helen Turner over $800 when she handed the keys to her 2004 Subaru Impreza over to an employee at a local Midas shop in Farmington, Connecticut.
Aside from the $26.99 oil change, Midas charged $297.24 to replace four spark plugs ($63.13 each in labor costs) and $398.02 ($263.03 for labor) to replace the valve cover gasket. The extra repairs, minus a $50 discount coupon for the repairs, cost $725.25.
Turner, who says she felt fearful and intimidated, agreed only to the work the Midas representative told her was essential.
‘He came out and said I need it done,” she says. “I’m 94 years old. I figured, ‘Gee, I need a car. I better get it fixed.’ Then he said there’s a lot more that needs to be done on it, bring it back next week. I told him I’m not going to bring it back right away. I was afraid of the guy because if I argued with him he’d take the car and make it worse.”
Turner eventually questioned whether the work was even done. Though the itemized bill, obtained by The Bottom Line, indicated Turner was at Midas for 2 hours, 9 minutes, she says her car was worked on only a fraction of that time.
“After he changed the oil,” she says, “he came in to me and said, ‘Well, we’re going to start on the other job now. It’s going to take 2 1/2 hours. I said, ‘Oh, my God, I have to sit here for 2 1/2 hours.’ And he came back in 20 minutes and said, ‘It’s all done.’ I said, ‘I thought you said 2 1/2 hours. He just smiled and put the keys on the counter.” Hartford Courant, 22 Dec 2012.
Thanks to a friend and the Hartford Courant, Tuner was able to get the bill reduced to a mere $400, but she still isn’t a happy customer.
Moral of the story?
For customers, find a trusted mechanic, check your bill carefully, and if in doubt, say no and wait for the service as long as the delayed repair won’t damage your car or risk your life. We recommend our own CarHelp.com referral service for the best rated mechanics in your area.
For mechanics, treat your customers as if they were your own 94-year-old grandmother. Don’t upsell them, make sure they’re aware of the cost before you do the service, and hire a great reputation management company for car dealerships and mechanics, like *ahem* CarHelp.com.
Image: Stock Photo via Hartford Courant
A customer dispute, that went viral, has ended after a South Carolina dealership agreed to purchase back a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS that was serviced, and damaged, by dealership employees. The incident started when William Clark took his Camaro in for service and recorded employees doing burnouts and discussing how they would make Clark pay for a clutch they ruined.
“…the voice recorder hidden in the door pocket catches employees doing several burnouts and hard launches in the Camaro; Clark later says the techs drove it harder in 20 minutes than he had in three years. Once back in the shop, the mechanics realize the Camaro’s clutch has been fried, and come up with a plan to blame the damage on Clark, saying to “write it up as him buying a (expletive) clutch,” while saying another part failed under warranty so that General Motors would pay for its replacement.” Yahoo! Auto, 8 Oct 2012.
After the dealership offered to pay for the repairs, but refused to purchase the car back, C lark posted the recording online, and 4,000 comments later and with intervention by General Motors itself, the dealership agreed to purchase the Camaro back and auction it off for charity.
Lessons learned? For customers, choose your service provider carefully, and use a peer-reviewed service, like CarHelp, before service. For dealers, create a culture of great customer service, and use a reputation management service to help solve online disputes.
Did you hear about the author who admitted to bashing fellow writer’s books online? His self-labeled “lapse of judgement” lasted over ten years. Needless to say, it’s cast a lot of doubt on the weight online reviews play in our choices of everything from books to vacuum cleaners, from mechanics to restaurants. Here at CarHelp, online reviews are our business. So when NPR published an article on “Five Ways To Stop a Fake Online Review” we paid attention.
As readers of online reviews intuitively know, merchants and authors post glowing reviews of their own products, and harsh reviews of their competitors, all the while pretending to be authentic customers. Now and then, fake reviews come to light, but most of the time, we don’t know if that five-star restaurant review was posted by your neighbor down the block or the chef at the restaurant — writing under a pseudonym.
That’s because many fakers have things down to a science. “What you’re trying to do is to be indistinguishable from a real review,” said Dina Mayzlin, a marketing professor at the University of Southern California. “So it’ll be, by definition, very hard to tell the good fakes [apart] from the real reviews.”
The Federal Trade Commission has tried to crack down on fake reviews by imposing fines and penalties, but the incentive for cheating — especially when combined with the low odds of getting caught — remains high. NPR, 12 Sep 2012.
Here are a few helpful tips, courtesy of NPR, for getting the most out of online reviews:
• Compare reviews between several sites for similarities or copies.
• Place more importance on verified reviews. For example, Amaazon.com uses a “real name” icon to indicate an authentic review and verified identity.
• Place less importance on the amount of stars given, and more on the details of the customer experience.
• Get important information from reviews, like how long a pool stays open, that often isn’t included in a business description.
• Focus on trends in the reviews, rather than outliers. Any business will have great or terrible customer stories. Looking at trends will show if a bad review is abnormal.
Scott Pitman, a Wichita, Kansas dealer, faced an online nightmare after Google arbitrarily deleted a large majority of his business’s Google+ Local reviews leaving them with only nine negative reviews. In all, almost 400 reviews, mostly positive, were deleted without notice, explanation, or chance to appeal.
“Google believes it can do whatever it wants and has no accountability,” said Pitman, whose store in Wichita, Kan., is Suzuki’s top-selling U.S. dealership.
Google also unilaterally deleted all but a handful of customer reviews from the Google+ Local pages of Fisher Auto Inc. in Boulder, Colo.; North End Motors, a used-car dealer in Canton, Mass. — and, by Google’s own admission, numerous other dealerships.
The Internet giant — which since has restored some of the reviews — offers no detailed explanation of why or how it did what it did. But the company said in a statement provided to Automotive News that it seeks to prevent “spammy” content, even at the risk of sometimes removing legitimate reviews.
“We know this is frustrating when it happens but believe that overall, these measures help everyone by ensuring that the reviews appearing on Google+ Local are authentic, relevant, and useful,” the statement said. Google declined to elaborate.
Pitman’s experience underlines both the marketing power and the pitfalls of Google. The Internet behemoth is connecting dealerships with a growing portion of their customers — but dealers have far less control over Google’s interactive features than they do over traditional advertising media.
The three stores said their reviews are legitimate, obtained by requests over several months to sales and service customers. They are at a loss to explain why Google cut them and have failed to get Google to discuss specifics.
The three have filed separate complaints about their treatment with the Federal Trade Commission. Pitman said he isn’t optimistic that the complaints will move Google. Auto News, 27 August 2012.
Pittman and his staff have started rebuilding their online profile and reviews by rallying customers to write new reviews. It’s worked. His rating is back up to 27 out of 30 with 55 reviews.
Interested in our online reputation management service? Contact us for more details.
The image above is an important example of how crucial customer service is in the auto industry. It happens so quickly: a customer feels taken advantage of by a dealership and takes extreme measures to vent their frustration, someone takes a photo and posts it online, and within a few days over 500,000 people have viewed the image. So, how do you prevent situations like this?
Here’s a few tips:
- Review any point of contact for customers and troubleshoot. Does your line go directly to voicemail? Are you responding to customers in a timely manner? Are you charging fair prices? Are the employees you use for sales and front desk able to treat customers kindly? Check out this article for more exceptional customer service rules.
- Go on Undercover Boss. Ok, it’s unlikely you’ll be chosen for the show, but you can create your own version. Have a friend bring a car in for repairs. Or hire someone to mystery shop at your dealership. Get honest, and outside, feedback from people you trust.
- Hire Carhelp for online reputation management. For more information, click here.
What does your business do to prevent or resolve customer complaints?