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The Impact of Customer Reviews on the Automotive Industry

By: Jamie Szczecina

Customer feedback has become an invaluable tool in the automotive industry for dealerships seeking to enhance their services. In our quest to unravel the intricacies of customer reviews, we turn to the insights provided by the 2023 Voice of the Customer Report by WideWail. This comprehensive report sheds light on the nuanced factors influencing positive and negative experiences within the automotive realm.

Positive Staff Interactions Drive Positive Reviews:

At the core of great automotive reviews is the profound impact of staff interactions. A staggering 57% of positive reviews pinpoint individual team members, underscoring the pivotal role personnel play in shaping customer perceptions. The report from WideWail reinforces this finding, emphasizing the importance of friendly, helpful, and professional staff members as the bedrock of positive reviews, even overshadowing pricing-related topics. An aspect that can really enhance positive interactions, and in turn reviews, is the urgency to answer and help customers. This makes for increased service appointments, sales, and longevity of customer relationships.

Staff Trumps Pricing and Dealership Topics:

Contrary to conventional wisdom, our analysis aligns with the findings of the WideWail report. Staff interactions emerge as 5x more predictive of a positive outcome than considerations related to pricing, such as cost, warranty, and deals. Moreover, the influence of staff is a staggering 12x more significant than traditional dealership topics like inventory, loaner cars, or valet services.

Positive Service and Sales Reviews Breakdown:

Drawing insights from the WideWail report, positive service reviews prominently highlight effective vehicle repairs and meeting customer expectations for wait times. In parallel, our exploration aligns, showcasing that positive sales reviews spotlight positive experiences within the sales department, often attributing success to specific staff members who embody qualities of helpfulness, friendliness, and professionalism.

Negative Reviews: The Culprits Revealed:

Despite the positive trends observed, negative reviews persist, predominantly stemming from issues related to service departments. According to the WideWail report, poor communication stands out as the primary culprit, resonating with our findings where 37% of negative reviews express dissatisfaction in this area. Unsatisfactory or expensive repairs, prolonged wait times, and unexpected pricing surprises also contribute significantly to negative sentiment.

Poor Communication: A Call for Improvement:

Aligned with the WideWail report, our analysis emphasizes the urgency for dealerships to prioritize improving communication in service departments. The recurring theme of communication breakdowns related to repairs and wait times necessitates streamlined and transparent communication processes to enhance customer satisfaction.

Pricing Takes a Backseat:

Intriguingly, the WideWail report and our examination converge on the observation that pricing is mentioned in only 11% of reviews, despite a substantial 61% increase in the cost of new vehicles since 2012. This suggests that pricing may be meeting consumer expectations. However, the report emphasizes the importance for dealerships to remain vigilant to potential shifts in customer sentiment.

In the automotive industry, customer reviews act as a barometer of success. Understanding the key factors shaping these reviews is paramount. Positive staff interactions, effective service experiences, and transparent communication emerge as the pillars of positive reviews. Addressing these issues head-on, positions dealerships to navigate the dynamic landscape and drive long-term customer satisfaction.

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