3 Steps to Improve Your Customer Reviews

Take control of your reputation management to help convert potential buyers

Why are customer reviews so powerful? Simply put, everyone loves a good story.



Customer reviews are a great way for customers to tell their story and share it with a larger community. The long tradition of storytelling to exchange social information means auto dealers can’t ignore the value of customer reviews when it comes to engaging with potential customers and marketing their business.

Reviews help consumers decide

Reviews help consumers make decisions because they are stories that come from their community. Storytelling is part of our social DNA.

As a New Yorker article from 2012 explains, storytelling is how we connect with a group, exchange social information, and warn others of positive and negative experiences. In the past, this might have meant people warning their social group about a threat or about a nearby water source.

Today, people seek information about everything, especially when it comes to purchasing products. Customer reviews help new buyers make informed decisions, and the data speaks for itself.

According to BrightLocal, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. It’s clear consumers make decisions using customer reviews. Here are three steps to implement a reputation management strategy for your dealership.

1. Feature reviews on website

According to a 2014 J.D. Power report, auto dealers benefit from having reviews on their website because average car shoppers spend 14 hours online researching their next car purchase on the web. That’s a lot of time to sift through and read customer reviews.

We recommend featuring reviews on the dealership’s navigation, home page, and vehicle pages. You want potential customers to find reviews quickly and easily.

Include reviews from third-party sites such as Yelp and Google Plus, Cars.com, and any other relevant sites where consumers can find your inventory. When you’re picking the reviews to feature, pay attention to the words in the reviews.

Our recent Language of Closers research showed that the words in reviews have an impact on whether or not a prospect is converted into a customer.

For example, the research found that words such as “passing” (as in passing someone on the road) were high predictors for conversion in sedan reviews. This word ranked at the top because it helps shoppers visualize and understand the power of a car by its passing ability, while attributes like “torque” and “horsepower” are only meaningful to car enthusiasts. “Quiet” and “comfortable” were other highly ranked words for all vehicle reviews.

2. Know your star rating

Star ratings matter. Dealers should know their star rating and monitor it regularly.

A BrightLocal survey found “auto services” is high on the list of the kinds of businesses people read online reviews for; 87% of those surveyed said they need to see three-star reviews at a minimum before considering a business.

3. Respond to customer reviews

Composing responses to all negative reviews is a great way to show potential customers that you care about the customer experience, and are willing to make things right whenever possible. Replying promptly and posting your response underneath the original review is ideal.

Assign a staff member to respond to reviews to minimize the risk of missing any of them. And remember—customers can tell if you’re just copying and pasting a standard message, or if you have a bot that is automatically responding. Although your response doesn’t have to be a novel, it’s important to show that there’s a person behind the message.

Embracing reputation management has huge benefits for your business, given the sheer quantity of reviews on the web and the importance of those reviews to convert potential shoppers. Do you know your star rating?

Alicia Auer is a social marketing specialist with CDK Global. She helps CDK dealers design and implement social strategies that drive customer engagement and brand presence. She believes there is always a creative solution to reach more in-market car shoppers using all digital mediums. She currently blogs for 15 dealerships in the CDK Power Social program. She credits her love of cars to her dad, who bought a new car every couple of years until his retirement from working at a Ford dealership at age 76.

Alicia Auer

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