In today’s digital world, reviews are everywhere. Sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor, and even auto shopping sites like CarGurus give people an easy way to share their buying experiences—good and bad—with fellow shoppers. For consumers, reviews provide the transparency they need to make informed buying decisions.
But reviews aren’t just about customer satisfaction. Your dealership can leverage them as a powerful marketing tool to drive customers to your dealership. In order to use them to your advantage though, you need to start paying attention—and responding—to them.
Your reputation matters—use reviews to build it up
Whether it’s the fact that 68% of CarGurus shoppers say they always look at a dealer’s reviews before contacting them, or that 25% say a dealership’s reputation and reviews are the most important factor to consider when choosing a car, it’s clear that reviews really matter. So much so, that 80% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. With shoppers putting so much stock in reviews, your dealership should see every review as an opportunity to influence a potential customer.
In addition to engaging customers through existing reviews, prompting people to leave reviews is a great way to build your reputation and shoppers’ trust. They’re nothing to fear—88% of CarGurus shoppers leave positive reviews—and they can have a huge impact. On the CarGurus platform, dealers with five-star ratings receive two times more connections than dealers with one-star ratings.
Responding to positive reviews helps strengthen your referral network
While it might be tempting to just smile and skip over positive online reviews, showing appreciation for your customers is a great way to encourage repeat business. Replying with a simple “thank you” will reinforce your dealership’s commitment to customers and have a lasting impact—people notice that extra effort. Plus, positive reviews make over 70% of potential customers more likely to trust a local business. You wouldn’t ignore a positive comment delivered in person, so you shouldn’t ignore feedback online.
See negative reviews as an opportunity to shine
Don’t miss the chance to turn a customer’s negative experience into a positive one—and offer your side of the story—by responding to bad reviews. Not only can you address the original angry customer with your response, you can also calm potential customers who have read the review. A thoughtful response shows consumers that you’re paying attention and that you care about providing good service. Consumers believe that a business cares more about them when someone responds to their reviews.
In your response, you should:
- Recognize the customer’s problem and own up to the issue.
- Explain your solution and how you plan to learn from the customer’s negative experience.
- Offer something to make up for the issue. It could be a discount, a refund, or a free tune up, for example.
Don’t over-explain or get defensive—a simple response will humanize your brand. And if someone’s being irrational, a calm, short response will make that apparent to readers.
While responding to reviews will help your dealership stand out, it’s also important to note that the majority of consumers expect businesses to respond. Customers who leave reviews—especially negative ones—want to have their issue addressed personally. Yet, our own research found that dealers with the lowest ratings respond to reviews less often than dealers with the highest ratings. This needs to change. Responding to a negative review might not change that particular customer’s experience, but it could be all that’s needed to put a future customer’s concerns to rest.
Leverage reviews to drive business to your dealership
Customer reviews, good and bad, can help set the tone for how your dealership is perceived by future customers. They’re crucial drivers of new sales, and your dealership can’t overlook their importance. Every review is an opportunity to engage with your customers and build your reputation, so make sure you’re taking advantage.