Sunday, August 12, 2007

Flogging The Dealer

One of the great and powerful things about the Internet is the ability of a single person, a "common" person, to get their message out to millions of readers with little-to-no effort.  And of course, any time the masses gain power, that can scare the establishment.

Jeff Bonnell wrote an interesting article at DealerRefresh about the impact of an example of this sort of power/fear relationship - a customer writing a negative blog post about a car dealership and having that blast show up on the first page of the dealership's Google search results.  Bonnell calls this "flogging."  The best way for a dealer to deal with sort of situation?  Contact the complainer and set things straight.  Once resolved, the flogger may actually edit the post and now instead of a scathing review showing up in Google, the dealer may have a glowing review and specific example of their excellent service.

I love this article for two reasons.  First, I think it's great to see that now dealers can be held accountable.  Customers have always been able to complain to the Better Business Bureau, but who bothers to check with the BBB before buying a car?  Now, all you need to do is get out your computer and tippy-tap your way to a message that may well be picked up quickly.  There probably aren't that mean real links to Jim Bob's Chevrolet out there, so there's a very real likelihood that your article will be noticed by Google and Yahoo.

The second part of this story that I love is that the most effective and sensible response by the dealers is to do the right thing.  Car dealers don't exactly have the best reputation from consumers.  People tend to not trust car salesmen, thus the oft-used stereotype of the "used-car salesman."  Maybe a new era of transparency and accountability is upon us?

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