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Strong Review

I'm "that guy." You know, the one who thinks that 4-stars is an amazing review coming from me, the one who hasn't rated anything a 10 out of 10 since my wife's Mediterranean pasta, the guy who wonders why his kid only got an "A" and not an "A+" on a test. There are more of us out there than you think, but there's a benefit to what I call the "conscientious reviewer". You might only get 4 out of 5 stars from us, but we'll write a book and sing your praises.

That's the real key to reviews. It's the words. It's the sentiment. The stars are only important if you don't have them already.

I get discouraged when I see dealers sitting there squeezing every possible five-star review they can get. If you have 300 reviews and a 4.9 average score, you don't need more 5-star reviews. You need more quality reviews. On the surface, most dealers would say that they would want the bottom review more than the top one because it's 5-stars rather than 4. If you think about it from a customer's perspective, they will read and get more out of the top review than the bottom one. It wouldn't even be close.

Some dealers are pushing their sales team to get 5-star reviews. They are even offering spiffs to make it happen. In the example above, the person who acquired the 3-word 5-star review would get the bonus and the person who acquired the well-written, conscientious 4-star review would likely get rebuked for not prompting their customer appropriately. This is a mistake.

Reviews with less than 5 stars get read more than the others. People are waking up to the idea that these review sites are often gamed. They know. They've probably been asked at one time or another to leave a positive review for a business. They do not believe that any business can accumulate 300+ reviews and have them be almost 100% positive. That's not how the world works. As a result, when they visit a review site that's listed on the search under "ABC Motors Reviews" or whatever they type in, they're looking for the reviews that have less than 5-stars.

I'm not suggesting that you should be promoting the concept of getting 4-star reviews. I'm not saying that a 3-star review from a happy customer is better than a 4-star review. All I'm saying is that you should be encouraging your customers to write full reviews. You don't need more 5-star ratings with 3-word reviews. You need more reviews that actually tell the story about their experience. In the example above, the 4-star review will have more of an impact on a buyer's decision than the 5-star review below it. Keep that in mind as we continue the never-ending quest of review acquisition. Focus less on the stars than the sentiment.

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  • Stephen, that's exactly what dealers need to do. Honesty resonates. Hundreds of fluff reviews are easy to spot and makes a customer curious about what the dealership has to hide.

  • Great post JD! And great comment Stephen! 

    It has ALWAYS been about substance. That is why I LOVE Video testimonials!! 

  • Totally agree. Most of our customers that research reviews really pay more attention to the comments than the stars. We try for a mix of complimentary and constructive reviews to be found in our review sites. We ask for honest comments from customers regarding both service and sales. Most of the time, they are more the willing to oblige.  

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