In little more than a decade, online reviews have transformed from a small feature for restaurants and bars to an essential component of nearly every consumer transaction. A breakthrough innovation, thousands of dealerships across the county are now using dealer reviews to their advantage on a daily basis; however, many have yet to get started.
Whether your dealership has a great handle on its online reputation or has barely scratched the surface, these seven key trends will help refocus your store on the importance of online reviews.
1. They’re Everywhere
If you’ve purchased new gear, visited a new barbershop, dined at an unfamiliar restaurant or taken a vacation recently, there’s a good chance online reviews were fundamental to your decision-making process. In automotive, it’s no different. More than 90 percent of consumers reference online review sites when selecting a dealership, meaning stores without a healthy foundation of reviews stand at a disadvantage.
2. They Drive Engagement
The more reviews a dealership has, the more quality content shoppers have to engage with. In fact, there’s a positive correlation between dealerships with multiple new dealer reviews and vehicle detail page (VDP) activity; stores with seven or more recent dealer reviews on Cars.com receive an average of nearly three times as many VDP views, compared to dealerships with no new reviews.
3. They’re Essential to Millennials
No generation has adopted online reviews more rapidly than Millennials. A cohort that’s grown up with social networks and online shopping tools, 81 percent of consumers age 18-34 say they seek opinions through online reviews before purchasing any product or service, according to a recent report from Mintel. And given that a portion of Millennials have yet to qualify for a driver’s license, it’s an area of huge opportunity for both dealerships and manufacturers.
4. They Matter to Service Customers
Online reviews have traditionally been a point of emphasis on the sales side of dealerships, but new data suggests that online reviews are just as relevant in the service lane. A significant point of influence, car owners rank online reputation among the top three most important factors when selecting a vehicle service provider, along with technician certification level and warranty.
5. They’re a Great Hook
General Mangers who’ve implemented successful reputation management programs will tell you that it’s very common to have car shoppers arrive at their dealership and ask for a specific salesperson by name all because of what the customer has read online. A large library of compelling online reviews can even help reel in shoppers from neighboring cities and states.
6. They Can Help Identify Process Issues
There’s no better way to gauge the success of your team than by getting direct feedback from the customers they serve. Online reviews offer a window into the consumer experience your dealership provides – both good and bad – and allow managers to identify and correct process issues before they become long-term challenges. On the flip side, they can also be a phenomenal tool to spotlight the work of top performers.
7. They’re Just Getting Started
In less than four years, car shoppers have shared more than 1 million dealer reviews on Cars.com. The explosive growth of online reviews spans across all industries, and dealer reviews on Cars.com, as well as other automotive reviews sites, will only continue to rise in importance in the coming years.
Getting started with online reviews takes planning and effort. For additional tips, check out our recent ebook, Scheduled Maintenance.