What motivates your customers to write absolutely glowing reviews – those five-star shout-outs that attract more customers to your lot? On the other hand, why do customers write blistering criticisms that cost you sales and create permanent heartburn?

At a time when eight out of 10 shoppers use online car reviews and car dealership reviews to inform their purchase[i], these are no small questions. So, at DealerRater, we decided to find answers.

We examined 1.4 million reviews of dealerships and salespeople that customers wrote on Cars.com and DealerRater.com in 2017. We compiled the most common phrases that appeared in both the most positive and negative reviews to uncover the common themes.

We discovered some compelling reasons why customers love dealerships — and we identified the main reasons why customers complain about their experiences. These two stand out:

  1. VIP experience from a dealer’s people. More than 41 percent of reviews single out the ability of a dealer’s employees to provide a great customer experience as vital. A superior buying experience is important, but more critical to consumers is great service overall, including an excellent fixed ops department.
  2. Personable pros on the show floor. More than 19 percent of reviews prove that an approachable, knowledgeable and professional staff is important. Being “friendly” and “having a sense of humor” are frequent themes in positive reviews.

The results underscore how important it is for dealers to train their employees in the art of customer service. Your customers are accustomed to getting a VIP experience now at other retail establishments, and those  expectation carry over into the dealership’s service lane.

I discuss the findings of the research in more detail in a post for DrivingSales. In addition, here is a link to download the report. I hope you find it useful to help you grow your business.


[i] Cars.com, “Review Usefulness and Recency,” November 2016.