Everyone’s a critic.
That’s the reality of living in a world where the internet gives everyone a platform. People eat at restaurants, they go to movies, they shop online, and then they write a review about it. They talk about what they like and don’t like, and they rate their purchase or their experience on a 5-star scale.
This is also true of car buyers, and if you play your cards right, your dealership will start collecting reviews. But is that a good thing for you? Why should you want your customers to rate your business?
Allow us to explain while we go over the importance of online reviews.
Online reviews impact 67.7% of purchasing decisions.
In a 2015 study, search analysts at Moz asked 1000 consumers via Google Consumer Surveys the following question:
“When making a major purchase such as an appliance, a smart phone, or even a car, how important are online reviews in your decision-making?”
Nearly two-thirds of participants said online reviews made an impact, and 54.7% of respondents said that reviews were fairly, very, or absolutely important in making their decision to purchase something.
Right away, this should tell you how important reviews have become. Sites like Yelp!, Yahoo!, and Google+ Local rank highly or auto-populate on search engine result pages, so customers might have their expectations set as soon as they look up your business. Don’t forget that Facebook also has a review section on all business pages.
For car dealerships, automotive review sites like Cars.com, DealerRater, and Edmunds.com also play a huge role. A 2013 study found that 70% of car buyers consider reviews before deciding which dealership to buy from. Of those, 24% said reviews were the most important factor.
The immediate takeaway for car dealers is that reviews are a huge influence on existing and potential customers. If you haven’t already, you should establish a page for your dealership on each major review site. This isn’t the kind of thing you want to set and forget, though.
Most negative reviews deal with customer service.
Another 2013 study, this one by Dimensional Research, found that positive and negative reviews carry near equal weight. Of 1,046 people surveyed, 90% said positive reviews had influenced their purchasing decisions, while 86% percent said negative reviews had influenced them.
The study was focused on customer service and found that common reasons for negative reviews include:
- Having to explain a problem to multiple people (72%)
- Dealing with an unpleasant representative (67%)
- Taking too long to resolve an issue (65%)
- The problem wasn’t resolved (51%)
Improving your dealership’s customer service starts with improving your staff, but that won’t make those negative reviews go away. To have a chance at that, you’ll have to reach out to the customers who leave those reviews on your page.
This is why online reputation management (ORM) is so important. You’ll need to not only open yourself to review from several different directions but also monitor all of these channels and respond to each review with care and diligence. It’s not an easy job, and you might seek out a dedicated service to stay on top of it.
Keeping a net positive review score is critical to maintaining your bottom line. The 2015 BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey found that only 13% of customers consider using a business with a 1 or 2 star rating. The same study found that 40% of consumers will form an opinion after reading between 1 and 3 reviews.
Even one unaddressed negative review can come back to bite you.
Ask your customers to visit your review page.
The Better Business Bureau summarizes ORM in 3 steps. We’ve covered the first two already. The first is to establish channels for customers to leave you reviews and then pay attention to them. The second step is to be proactive about negative attention and work to resolve customer dissatisfaction.
The third and most important step is to actively solicit reviews from your customers.
By now it should be obvious how powerful a good review score can be for your dealership. The more positive reviews you have, the stronger that rating becomes.
People are more likely than ever to go online and leave a review, but many still need some encouragement. Ask the people who visit your store to visit your Facebook page and share their experience. Give your customers a handout with links to your Cars.com, DealerRater, and Edmunds.com pages. All it takes is a reminder.
The modern shopping age is as social as everything else thanks to the internet, and reviews will only become more important as time goes on. One of the most essential pieces is to start by offering transparent information, so people know what they’re getting.
If you’re not sure where to start, don’t be afraid to ask.