How to Deal with Bad Online Customer Reviews of Your Auto Body Shop

by Tom Zoebelein - Mon, Jul 22, 2013 4:15 PM

Let’s face it: it's not yet in our human nature to take the time to write a great review. Maybe it’s because we are still adapting to the online experience. Maybe we just take positive experiences for granted, since after all, that is what we pay for. But slip up or anger a customer, and you can really be in for it. Sometimes the feedback is good for our shops, but most of the time, the bad review lives online, like a stain, forever. 

So what can you do to prevent negative reviews from destroying your hard earned reputation?

  1. Learn from the reviews and make changes to your shop.

Any consumer reading enough reviews can spot trends about your shop both good and bad. A lot of times you will see your CSR staff mentioned (which can be a good thing), and you can also really start to paint a picture of your flaws. The nice thing about a customer review is they let you know what is important to them, in their words, and in their language. You might start to spot issues with delays, or take backs. This is actually a blessing if you treat it as such. Maybe you need to train your staff, or hold a meeting with that department and brainstorm ideas of how to improve that process. You might even want to check our reviews for some local shops where people are raving about the quality. Make a phone call to the owner and ask them for some ideas.

  1. Respond online wherever possible.

Some review sites like allow you the opportunity for a rebuttal. I have seen companies nail this, and I have seen companies blow it on the response. My advice is to drop the defensiveness and turn on the charm. Address the customers concerns, fix them, and report back what you did to make the situation right. The companies that blow it are the ones who get defensive and argumentative in their responses. It does not matter if this angry reviewer is right or not, the next guy who reads the review will choose a side based on your response. Professionalism wins. Be prepared to eat a little humble pie.

  1. Set up a Google alert to check for your name.

This is something everybody who is responsible for a company’s online presence should do. You can set up a Google alert for any phrase you want to track online. I suggest you set up several alerts. Set one up for your shop name, set one up for your shop name and the word review, your shop and the word rating, your shop and the word service etc. Anytime Google crawls the web and finds that phrase it will send you an e-mail alert. Go here to set them up now:

  1. Scan for social media mentions.

The reputation game does not just reside in online review sites like ours our Yelp. It lives in Social media as well. If your shop is big enough to warrant it, or you have the budget, you can use subscription based software like Radian 6, or Hubspot’s new Social inbox  tool to scan the whole web, including social media sites for any mention of your company name, and take the appropriate action. If you don’t have the budget to invest in this type of software, Social Media examiner has a great blog post about setting up your on free social media mention searches. It is a lot more labor intense and you have to remember to do some of it, but it is absolutely worth doing.

  1. Bury the bad reviews with great ones.

This is not just a shameless plug for The average consumer reading reviews is actually looking for both sides of the story. Think about it. If you went on a website or a shop page and read three good reviews, that would tell you something about the company but not the whole story. Back when I was selling trade show exhibits, it was actually a requirement on some RFP’s to include the contact information for a customer that you LOST! The reason for that is obvious, people want to get the whole picture and decide for them. It is just as important to read why somebody was dissatisfied with a service as it is to find out why people love it.

Also if you have 50 great reviews and one or two bad ones, those bad reviews appear as either mistakes, or total crack-pot customers. Don’t forget to give your consumers a bit of credit in their own decision-making abilities. If all you had were four bad Yelp reviews, you might be in trouble. If those same four bad reviews were surrounded in or buried under a pile of glowing consumer praise, how strong do those four bad reviews look?

  1. Remember, not all bad reviews are bad.

Expanding on item # 5 above, if you have 50 positive reviews, and two bad reviews about things that are completely out of control (such as having to wait for a part to come in, or the person didn’t like the rental car), or even a legitimate beef with your shop’s service that you made good on, is actually reinforcing to a consumer. We are all humans, and we all make mistakes. It is the kinds of mistakes and the frequency of mistakes, and the steps you took to resolve the issue (or didn’t take) that we as consumers want to see. Like I said, we want the whole picture in order to decide.

So there you have it shop owners! Six more things to consider about your online reputation. Let us know about your thoughts on online reviews. Got a review horror story? Share it in the comments below.

At, we post each and every customer review we receive-both good and bad. We never filter our reviews to “help” a body shop look good and our strict processes prevent phony or fake reviews from being posted to our site. For pure, unadulterated and 100% objective reviews, rely on each and every time. logo