Most dealerships today understand the importance of a good online reputation. Consumers see online reviews all over the web, and they do influence customers in their selection of a dealership for both sales and service. However, most dealers stop their online reputation management efforts there. Online reviews to them are, in effect, a vanity metric with some unknown, unquantifiable business impact. If this is your dealership, you are missing at least four big opportunities to profit from your online reviews.
1. Use Positive Reviews in Marketing
Consumers trust what other consumers say about you far more than your witty marketing copy. Online reviews (and links back to them) from across the web can make good social media posts. If a customer leaves a glowing review, ask them about doing a video regarding their experience. You could then use that as a video advertisement. Even billboards with five stars and an excerpt from a testimonial can be far more powerful than a vehicle stock photo. Or try running a Facebook ad that highlights your Google star rating.
Don’t forget that your online reviews should also influence where you spend your ad budget. If you have a great review score on cars.com but not so good on Edmunds, you should likely be spending more on cars.com since your ad performance on Edmunds will be negatively impacted by your poor scores there.
2. Use Negative Reviews to Drive Process Improvements
Some dealerships agonize and pore over feedback a customer delivers in person or on a comment card, but then regularly ignore what is said in online reviews. Effective dealerships will have all of management read their negative reviews and consider them together with other sources of feedback.
Sometimes anonymous online reviews are just critical garbage, but often they are honest in ways that other feedback is not and can have valuable insights for you in terms of what you need to change to improve your customer experience. Unlike comment cards, you can have a dialogue with those reviewers and potentially change their minds. A negative experience you can fix sometimes turns someone into your most ardent fan.
3. Use Online Reviews to Capture More OEM Bonus Dollars
Online reviews can often help you capture more bonus dollars from the manufacturer. Several OEMs have programs and awards that incorporate online review management criteria to incentivize dealers to guard the brand. Surprisingly, many dealers are not aware of the dollars they are missing.
Even if your manufacturer does not have a specific online reputation bonus, there is almost certainly a customer satisfaction score bonus, and the real-time nature of reviews can help you perform better here. Most manufacturer satisfaction surveys take about seven days for the consumer to receive; most online reviews are left far sooner. With a proactive review management approach, you can contact your negative (and even lukewarm) reviewers before they receive the factory survey and potentially turn their experience around.
4. Use Good Reviews to Increase Your Average Sale Price
Finally, better reviews mean you can increase your average selling price of vehicles. For those who are skeptical of this claim, think of it this way: your average Google rating is 3.5 and your closest competitors all average 4.3 to 4.8. With car buyers visiting only one to two dealerships, how will you get them to come see you? What if you offered a much lower price than the competition, would that do it? For some buyers, it would. What that implies though is that if lower prices can offset bad reviews, then higher review scores mean you can maintain a higher price. Still skeptical? Here is some additional research to support this claim:
• Consumers are likely to spend 31 percent more on products/services from businesses that have excellent reviews.1
• Consumers would pay up to 16 percent more for better customer experience, plus increased loyalty.2
• Frustrated by organizations that don’t listen to their feedback or reward their loyalty, 81 percent of consumers are willing to increase their spend with an organization in return for a better experience.3
• The price premium for quality CX among consumers worldwide is up to 16 percent for products and services, 42 percent of consumers said they would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience, and 52 percent would pay more for a speedy and efficient customer experience.4
An active online reputation management strategy can have a significant impact on your sales and bottom line, if you take advantage of all the potential benefits reviews can offer. If you’re just watching and being reactive to what reviews come in, you’re missing these opportunities. Take a proactive approach and improve your bottom line by utilizing your online reviews.
- BrightLocal 2017, https://bit.ly/29hKyhf
- PwC, 2018, https://pwc.to/2Wcr00J
- Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute, 2017, https://bit.ly/2L6s2GU
- CMO, 2018, https://cmo.cm/2Fdghwe
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