Study Finds 70 Percent of Vehicle Shoppers Pay Close Attention to Online Reviews

How’s your online reputation? Are your dealership’s reviews good or lackluster? There is a growing body of evidence that car shoppers pay very close attention to online reviews. The online marketing platform CarGurus has found that nearly 70 percent of car buyers always check online reviews before contacting a dealer. The number escalates with younger shoppers. The study found that 91 percent of 18-to-34-year-old vehicle shoppers place as much trust in online reviews as they do on word of mouth.

“The growth of the internet and social media has made it easy for people to share their buying experiences – good and bad – with fellow consumers,” said Amy Mueller, CarGurus’ VP of communications. “As a result, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to your online reputation.”

The research found that one quarter of survey respondents chose a dealership’s reputation as their number one consideration when choosing a vehicle.

“Customer reviews set the tone for how your dealership is perceived by future customers,” said Mueller. “They’re crucial drivers of new sales, and your dealership can’t overlook their importance. Every review is an opportunity to engage with your customers and build your reputation, so make sure you’re taking advantage.”

CarGurus advises dealers that wish to maintain a good online reputation to pay close attention to the review process.

Ask satisfied customers to write a review. It’s a fact of life that people are more likely to go online and leave a review when they’re unhappy. By asking for feedback from satisfied customers, you can improve your review averages and your online reputation.

Monitor your reviews. Designate a person in the dealership to pay close attention to reviews. Check the review sites regularly, and set up Google alerts.

Respond to reviews. While you may not be able to do anything about negative reviews, it’s important that you respond to them. Acknowledge the buyers’ comments, apologize if appropriate and offer to make amends. This way, potential shoppers who see the bad reviews will also see that you’ve made an effort to improve, and that you take the feedback seriously.

Use the good reviews as marketing material. Positive customer feedback is an important marketing tool. Use the best reviews on social media, your web site and in promotional materials.