Consider today’s buying experience from the consumer’s perspective. With access to the inventory and pricing of dealers all over the country, finding the best deal is easier than it’s ever been. But how do they know which dealer offers the best customer experience in addition to the vehicle they want? They do what all consumers do—go online to see who has the best reviews, ratings, and, in today’s market, the most reliable health and safety measures in place.
Your digital strategies need to go beyond website development, video messaging, and social media in 2021. Here are five ways your online reputation can make or break your next sale.
- The average consumer reads ten reviews before feeling like they can trust a business. There’s no doubt that online reviews shape consumer behavior. What are people saying about your dealership – and where are they sharing that information? Customer experience matters when there’s a significant investment at stake. If buyers felt like their best interests were considered during the sales process, they can become true advocates for your business.
- According to the 2020 Automotive Reputation Report, mentions of cleanliness and hygiene in dealership reviews grew by 100% in the past year. With concerns over personal safety lingering into the new year, reputation management won’t be an option in 2021—it will be a necessity. How well you follow COVID-19 safety protocols, like requiring customers and employees to wear masks and social distance, can heavily influence buyers and inspire them to leave their thoughts for future customers to read.
- The number of negative dealership complaints rose from 18% in April to 38% in September. Customer service, pricing, and the financing process rank in the top three triggers of negative reviews. Unexpected costs during closing and high or inconsistent prices are frequently cited as drivers for why buyers leave behind negative sentiment. Transparency about pricing and fees is critical, especially when customers have access to so much information online and come to the dealership with a firm price in mind.
- Quantity matters. When it comes to being found on Google, the more high-quality reviews you have, the more visible you will be. But the average number of reviews per location is down in 2020 from 191 to 160. With your reputation on the line, it’s imperative you are proactive in soliciting reviews. Plant the seed as you hand over the keys, telling buyers that you value their feedback and would appreciate if they’d share their experience online.
- More than 50% of consumers say they’ll only consider companies with at least a 4-star rating. And once buyers drive off the lot, nothing stands to influence their opinions more than the vehicle service contract you provide. You’re partnering with a company that you need to be there for your customers on their worst days after buying a used car. Don’t let a bad experience lead to a bad review.
Dealerships that pay attention to their digital reputations can see up to a 10% increase in average sales volume. As you’re making plans for 2021, don’t overlook this crucial step in building your brand to stay ahead of the competition.