Readers of this collection of hypertext may recall my tale of woe in dealing with a San Jose Auto Repair shop who done me wrong last year.  The subtitle of that little missive was “A lesson in reputation management” and the subsequent flames that sprung up on various local reviews sites showed how rubbing someone the wrong way, particularly someone with a rudimentary understanding of how social media works, is probably not a good way to get the good word out about your business.  (BTW, thanks to FrankOB for coining my new moniker, the “Flat Tire Guy”.)

Anyhow, I just came across a similar story from Jonah Stein about a Berkeley Toyota dealer that did his wife wrong.  In this case it sounds like the Steins were treated shabbily by the dealer and the dealer ultimately decided not to do business with them because he was afraid the Steins would trash him in their customer satisfaction survey.

Maybe search marketers should have to disclose what they do when they enter into a customer service situation.  Then again, maybe businesses shouldn’t treat customers poorly and then provide disincentives to make it right.

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12 Response Comments

  • Jonah Stein  August 10, 2010 at 3:51 pm


    Thanks for the mention. It is worth noting that you still rank #1 (after the 7 pack) for complete auto care San Jose and #5 for auto care san jose.

    Not to mention #2 for “Tate Auto Care”,

    I would like to think you cost this guy enough money to notice, just like I hope I have steer a few nice people out of the clutches of Berkeley Toyota.

  • Andrew Shotland  August 10, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    The amazing thing is that it says right on my post that if he just publicly apologizes in the comment section, then I’ll take it down. But he never has and so it lives on.

  • Andrew Shotland  August 10, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    On a somewhat related note, the last time I got my car serviced, the guy went out of his way to ask me to fill out the customer service survey that Ford would send me and to say something nice as his compensation was tied to it.

  • David Mihm  August 10, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Andrew, my VW dealer’s service department told me the same thing back when I actually leased/owned a car.

    These corporations need to realize that their customers’ EXTERNAL reviews and reputation are far more important than their internal quality control.

    Jonah, I’m sorry you had such a bad experience but am somewhat surprised that you didn’t buy over the ‘net and have the car shipped in…I’ve actually thought about doing the same thing in reverse–buying a car from a good salesman in the Bay Area and having it shipped up here (we don’t pay any sales tax here in Oregon).

  • wages  August 11, 2010 at 6:52 am

    Hi, i found your blog through search have the great knowledge it is such a great information. you have really a great a great blog about the SEO. Thanks for sharing the nice information.

  • Micaheath  August 11, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I love this post Andrew, it really hits home for me seeing how I am a search marketer working in-house for an auto repair shop. Working for this kind of company has been quite a challenge and I find it extremely interesting that we are the only guys in town (Portland, Or) who seem to be paying attention to this stuff, which obviously gives us an amazing advantage online. Let me tell you though it took some convincing. I have set up a complete reputation management system, including a customer review program that encourages posting reviews online for incentives. This program has made ALL the difference, higher rankings in local, 90% less negative reviews posted (with over 7 auto repair shops you will never be perfect), and all this carries over to better word of mouth off line. With touchy businesses such as this online reputation management can be extremely tricky. But with the increase in customers scoping out a business online before they shop, avoiding situations like the one you have described here (Which I absolutely love) is more crucial then ever!

  • Andrew Shotland  August 11, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Hey Micah, curious what tools you are using, if any, for managing your various programs.

  • Micaheath  August 11, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Yea sure Andrew, so like I said I’m in house for a local business so I’m doing everything I can on a shoe string budget. We have a mirror hanger program for reviews, so we put one in each car saying to go to a url to give us their feedback and get a free oil change. they go to the url, submit a form, that comes to me, I filter good and bad, reply to good with another url taking them through the steps using a frame to post the review on google or citysearch, they hit submit on our page and print coupon. Bad emails i respond apologizing and attach free oil change coupon. I know this isn’t exactly what you were asking, but this makes such a huge difference, curbs so many of our negative reviews by giving people a place to vent and feel heard, and gives us a chance to respond before they go posting it everywhere online. Since we have implemented this we have seen not only a huge increase in positive reviews posted (obviously) but negative reviews are virtually nonexistent! As far monitoring goes, I track the two forms we use for this campaign using GA, I track mentions of our name using Google Reader alerts to my email, and manually check once a week what i consider the big 3 (Yelp, Google Places, Citysearch) for new reviews and keep track in a spreadsheet. So I know these all these tactics are nothing new to you. I’m always looking for new suggestions (one of the many reasons I read your blog daily), anything you can think of that could help my efforts? Your knowledge is always greatly appreciated!

  • Utah carpenter  August 11, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    With the internet it is very easy to review and read reviews of a company. companies that do not have good customer service will have a hard time competing with those that value their customers.

  • Stever  August 12, 2010 at 12:11 am

    Love the mirror hangers idea there Micaheath.

    With the framed google page or city search page, don’t they need an account to submit reviews?

  • Micaheath  August 12, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Thanks Stever!

    Yes they do need an account, that’s where I think most people bail, but you are going to have that problem regardless. Luckily we can offer a free oil change, which is just enough incentive to make people work a little for it. Also, outside the frame on our page ,we have step by step directions on how to submit the review if they do already have an account, and step by step directions if they do not. It’s not perfect, but as of right now, that is the easiest way we have found to lead people through an inherently complicated process. Oh and just a side note, the reason we don’t send people to Yelp is that Yelp filters out ALL reviews from new users and Yelp’s reviews don’t always trickle down into your Google places account. Although it does seem that is starting to change, it is still to inconsistent to waste a review on.

  • SEO Consulting  August 29, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    I think consultants in all industries should stay away from the “wrong” type of clients. A lot of businesses simply do not have their stuff together and that can easily disrupt the service you are trying to perform for them. The worst part is they may blame you for their insufficiency. Choosing the right clients is completely necessary for survival.