How Motorcycle Dealerships Deal With Customer Complaints & Online Reviews

Social media is the new “Complaint Department” for motorcycle retailers and service departments.

Motorcycle dealerships and customer feedback.
Back in the day, dissatisfied customers had to file their complaints in person. Social media is the new "Complaint Department" for bike dealerships and most other businesses.©Motorcyclist

Customer feedback is a vital part of making our business better. It’s always nice to hear we’re doing well, but we also need to hear when things are going wrong. The only way for us to improve your shopping experience is to know when we are falling short of your expectations and then put procedures in place to correct it. The dreaded “word on the street” can slowly erode a customer base, especially those customers who are less than loyal.

When things go right, we hope our customers leave happy and will go forth spreading the word. Some shops even offer a customer referral incentive in the form of discounts, cash, or a store credit when you send someone in who makes a major purchase.

It’s a completely different story when things go wrong. Social media is the new Complaint Department, giving voice to everything from a legitimate bad buying experience to not answering the phone immediately. I’ve read posts from customers complaining about their experience without giving us an opportunity to resolve the concern, let alone the opportunity to clarify to the masses what actually happened. (It’s fair to say we don’t always agree on the chain of events.)

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Our responses to these complaints through social media are usually generic in nature with a splash of apology for good measure; we’d rather defuse the situation there and make the opportunity to talk to the customer in person. Blamestorming in a public forum does no one any good.

I can’t speak for all shops, but we take online reviews seriously; I feel that most do. You have to these days. So if you’ve had a good experience with your local shop I recommend leaving a review. Be honest and concise and tell them exactly how you feel. If your experience was less than spectacular, I also recommend leaving a review with the same honesty and conciseness. Before posting something negative, please take a moment to see if your concerns can be handled in person. We sometimes mess up, but it is how we handle your matter that truly counts.

We also read reviews of our competitors to see what their customers are saying, and while some are very good others can be excruciating to read. I’m surprised when a customer walks in complaining about a bad buying experience from the shop down the street, saying had they read the reviews before making their purchase they probably would have gone somewhere else. Researching the dealer should be as important as researching the bike you want to buy—make social media just one more tool.

Jeff Maddox is the sales manager for a multi-line dealership in the Midwest. Questions for him? Email us at mcmail@bonniercorp.com with "Retail Confidential" in the subject line.